What is a Primary Care Physician and What Do They Do?

There are some people who are perfectly healthy and rarely visit at the doctors office. Other people may have sporadic health issues, and still others have multiple doctors that they regularly juggle because they have many health issues. So, do all of them need a Primary Care Physician? And if they need one, what does a primary care physicians do exactly? Here is some helpful information about Primary Care Physician (sometimes called PCPs).

What Does A PCP Do?

In simple terms, a Primary Care Physician is a person who is usually the first stop for medical care. Their area of expertise is general healthcare and they can help send you in the right direction if you have a specific health issue that would involve a specialty. Although probably most PCPs are doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners can also function as a PCP.

Do I Really Need A PCP?

Although ultimately the decision about whether or not to have a PCP is up to the patient, there are a number of benefits to selecting a Primary Care Provider. A PCP is someone who can help you remember and coordinate all of your health screenings and someone who can make recommendations about how to keep you healthy. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s someone who knows your entire health history. Here are some benefits for selecting a PCP:

  • They can treat just about anything, and if they can’t, they will send you to someone who can.
  • Over time, they will get to know you, your health history, your body, and your personality. They will be able to assess what treatments work best for you.
  • They are a point person who can help you navigate sometimes complex waters of healthcare and they can coordinate your healthcare with other doctors.
  • They can treat you when you are sick and well and also can keep you on a wellness regimen that will keep you healthy over time.
  • They will make sure that you get all of your routine screenings done and tell you which ones you should be doing.
  • If you establish care with a PCP, then it’s easier to get an appointment when you really need to see one.

How Do I Choose A PCP?

Aside from working with your insurance company to make sure that a potential PCP is within your network, there are some other helpful things to look for when searching for a Primary Care Provider. It’s important to bear in mind that you may have to visit a few doctors before you find someone who is a good fit. And although everyone’s preferences about doctors may be different, there are some qualities that may be helpful when evaluating a PCP:

  • Look at education and experience.
  • See if there are positive references and reviews about the doctor online.
  • Does the doctor communicate the way you want them to?
  • Do they have a good bedside manner and a personality that melds with yours?
  • Most importantly, find a doctor that listens to you in a non-judgemental way.

Finding a good PCP may make your life easier and healthier.

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