What is a Primary Care Physician?

A Primary Care Physician or a PCP is someone who practices general medicine. They are your first stop when it comes to any non-emergency medical issue. If they are not able to take care of you in house, they can refer you to a specialist. Their goal is to oversee your health throughout the entire process. PCP’s are typically Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants.

Types of Primary Care Physicians

The type of PCP you should be looking for depends on your family’s needs.

Family Medicine Doctors

            Family doctors are meant to take care of your whole family. They look over people of all ages from infants to the elderly. Your family doctor should be your primary physician for any non-emergency medical issues. However, they will care for you when you have an acute issue such as an illness or injury, as well as your routine care for physicals and check-ups.

Pediatricians

            Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in children’s health from birth to 18 years of age. Generally, pediatricians will refer patients who reach 18 years to a family medicine physician.

Internal Medicine Doctors or “Internist”

            Internist’s are doctors that specialize in adult care who have an expertise in diagnosing and treating complex diseases most common in adults.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors or “OB-GYNs”

            OB-GYNs are doctors that focus on women’s reproductive health. They are specialized in caring for women from pregnancy to birth as well as birth control and menopause.

Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant

            A Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant is a nurse that is qualified to practice general medicine without the supervision of a doctor.

What should I see my Primary Care Physician for?

Most Primary Care Physicians see everything from acute issues such as a sore throat to more serious illnesses such as diabetes. Primary Care Physicians also provide preventive care. Depending on your age, preventative care is free with most insurance companies. They will cover things such as immunizations and annual physicals. Regular annual physicals are important to create healthy benchmarks and identify any issues before they get worse. Most PCP’s also provide in house procedures such as wart removal and laceration repair.

The main job of your PCP is to oversee your care. An important part of this is when your PCP “refers” you to a specialist. When specialized care is needed, they will be able to refer you to a provider that they trust. In the end, your PCP and the specialist will be able to communicate about the best options for your care. With many health insurance plans, referrals are necessary to get the covered care that you need.

Do I have to see a Primary Care Physician?

The answer is no BUT Primary Care Physicians offer more than just helping you when you’re sick. They provide personalized care from start to finish. PCP’s are able to follow you throughout your life and determine the best care for you based off of your health history. PCP’s are also crucial to getting specialized care. By referring you to specialists that they trust, you can be sure that your health is being overseen the entire time.

When looking for a PCP, it is important to make sure that they are the right fit for you. First, check with your insurance company. Most insurance companies have a directory of PCP’s that you can choose from so be sure to check with them for your in-network providers. Next, look at what other people have said about them. Good websites to look at are Healthgrades.com and Ratemds.com. Lastly, set up an appointment to establish care with your new PCP. This gives you and the provider a chance to sit down and talk about your health history. It also establishes a long-term relationship between you and the physician.

Are you looking for a new Primary Care Physician? Center for Lifetime Health has three providers that can be your PCP! Call our office to schedule your initial appointment.

The Importance of an Annual Physical

Here at Center for Lifetime Health, we strive to provide the best medical care possible to every one of our patients. One way we ensure our patient’s needs are being taken care of is by offering annual physicals. Annual physicals are crucial to staying on top of one’s health. It is the time to talk to your doctor about what is going well and not so well. Through developing a relationship with your primary care provider, they can have a full understanding of your health history for the future.

Regular annual physicals are important to create healthy benchmarks and identify any issues before they get worse. Through blood work, your provider can get a closer look into your health. Typically we will test for blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood cell count, thyroid levels, as well as kidney and liver function. Occasionally an abnormal result will point directly to a specific disorder, which requires treatment or further evaluation. Test results should always be considered along with other information about the individual. However, tests do not reveal all possible diseases or abnormalities and should not be considered a substitute for regular medical checkups.

Annual physicals may even add longevity to your life. Through constant evaluation, you can keep a better eye on what is going on. It is also a time to reevaluate your current routine and make the appropriate changes to better your health.

Most insurance companies will cover one annual physical a year. Take advantage of your benefits and schedule your annual physical!