What is a primary care physician?
A primary care physician, or PCP, is a doctor that tends to your basic medical needs and acts as a communicator on your behalf to other doctors. Think of a primary care physician as your medical home base to administer maintenance care. Primary care doctors diagnose and sometimes treat things such as
- Routine checkups (or annuals)
- Common cold
- Viral infections
- Blood pressure
- Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, personality disorders)
- Low to moderate risk physical injuries
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Primary care doctors will administer regular care, but they will also maintain a record of your medical history. Your primary care provider will document things like medications, bloodwork, and patterns of ailments.
Primary care doctors additionally look for emerging issues and take preventative action when they spot a potential problem. Your doctor will administer vaccinations annually or when they are required.
Why is it crucial to have a primary care doctor?
Suppose you are sick with any non-emergent illness like the common cold or flu. In that case, a primary care doctor will provide a standard checkup and prescribe medication if needed.
Likewise, suppose you are sick or injured in an urgent situation. Your primary care doctor will refer you to the hospital and send over additional information about your health. They are the doctor you will visit in all non-emergent situations and your reference point in emergencies.
Primary care providers will refer you to specialists and communicate with other doctors as your spokesperson. For example, if patients find that their blood pressure increases, they will reach out to their primary care doctor. The primary care doctor will conduct a thorough exam and may refer the patient to a cardiac specialist.
What type of health care professional do you require?
Based on your individual needs, you may need the services of any of these five types of primary care physicians. If you do not already, you’ll want to ensure that you see at least one of these doctors on a minimal basis of one year.
- Family medicine doctors: Family medicine doctors are general doctors who tend to large spectrums of ailments. These doctors serve as a one-stop-shop for all your essential medical needs.
- Pediatricians: Pediatricians are doctors for children of all ages. They monitor a child from birth to adulthood and treat common illnesses.
- OB-GYNs: OB-GYNs (obstetrics and gynecology) specialize in women’s health and care associated with reproductive health. Women should see an OB-GYN as soon as they are experiencing a menstrual cycle or are sexually active. Healthier women with no other ailments sometimes use an OB-GYN as a primary care physician.
- Internal medicine doctors: Internal medicine doctors specialize in a broader scope of training than other doctors, focusing on chronic conditions. Internal medicine doctors only treat adults and will sometimes assist in geriatric care. Issues diagnosed or treated in a hospital setting are typically standard for internal medicine doctors.
- Internal medicine pediatric doctors: Internal medicine pediatric doctors, or ped-meds, only treat children. Like internal medicine doctors, they have the knowledge to track prolonging disorders.
How do you find a primary care doctor?
There are many ways to find a primary care physician, but you must locate a doctor to fit your needs. Ask yourself what you are looking for in a doctor and go from there. These are a few tips to help you find the right doctor.
The first thing you’ll want to do is contact your medical insurance provider to obtain a list of in-network doctors. In-network means that the doctor accepts your insurance, and you will only be responsible for the co-pay after meeting your deductible for the year.
Talk to family and friends about who they use to conduct their primary care services. Does anyone seem particularly passionate about a particular doctor? Is there a doctor whose manner is exceptionally professional? The advice of your peers may steer you in the right direction in finding the perfect primary care doctor for you.
If you have found an in-network doctor, call their front desk and ask questions. For example, suppose it is a medical practice with a team of doctors. In that case, you may ask the receptionists for a doctor with desirable traits. Are you looking for someone with vast experience, a warm bedside manner, or the first available? Whatever you are looking for, the front desk can assist in pairing you with a doctor.
Suppose you have limitations based on things like scheduling and location. In that case, ensure that whatever doctor you choose can accommodate your needs. Do you need a doctor who can see you within a specific time frame or a virtual appointment? Do you need a doctor on the way to your work or your child’s school? Keeping needs like these in mind can help you select a primary care provider.
If you are already seeing a specialist for a specific medical condition, you could ask for any suggestions. You could additionally see if there is already a primary care physician in the same building or area, so you do not have to travel far for your medical needs. In addition, doctors communicate regularly, which makes asking for an opinion a good idea.
Our health is our livelihood, and it is of the utmost importance to protect that more than anything. Conclusively, having a primary care physician is a way to ensure that you are constantly keeping track of your health. Maintaining regular check-ins and acknowledging any new issues ensures that you stay in charge of your overall wellness.
If you are on the island of Kauai and looking for a primary care physician, Poipu Mobile MD Clinic can assist with primary care needs. Hospitality, transparency, and convenience are the baseline for our primary care services. Call or text us today at 808-652-7021 for an introductory appointment.