The search results for the best internist near me query can be daunting. There are different types of primary care physician, with distinct patient demographics and treatment approaches. If you’re the one having trouble, read along to understand more about PCPs and why it is important to have one.
Who Is a Primary Care Physician?
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A primary care provider (PCP) is the first healthcare physician you approach in case of non-life-threatening medical concerns. PCPs are usually referred to as doctors, while some nurse practitioners and physician assistants may also offer primary care.
Primary care is diverse in disposition as it deals with disease prevention, management, and treatment. Primary care physician are dedicated to optimum health and wellness. However, they also help their patient with:
- Prevention of hereditary and environmental diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
- Treatment of common diseases such as cold, fever, flu, etc.
- Early diagnosis of diseases
- Management of life-long chronic diseases
- Referral to specialist physicians if/when the prognosis worsens.
When selecting a primary care provider, it’s a one-time decision. Once you visit your PCP, you may choose to stick with them for the rest of your life. During this period, the physicians will continue to monitor your health status. Due to regular visits like annual wellness exams, your PCP will be aware of your:
- current health status
- medical history
- family history
- lifestyle pattern
These factors help physicians make informed, and personalized decisions. It also enables the PCP to monitor symptoms that might lead to the onset of any chronic disease.
Why is it Important to Have a Primary Care Physician?
One cannot emphasize the importance of having a primary care physician enough. While they look after your health and wellbeing, they also keep deadly diseases at bay. Following are the utmost reasons why everyone should have a primary care providers, who they should visit regularly:
1. For Urgent Care
It is crucial to visit a primary care provider for non-life-threatening yet urgent conditions. Instances like broken arms, acute asthma attacks, and sports injuries require urgent care. Having a PCP on the go will help you with prompt solutions.
2. For Chronic Care Management
Did you know that approximately 133 million Americans live with one chronic disease or another? These life-long conditions require consistent medical attention and thus serve as another reason to have a PCP. People who schedule regular appointments with their primary care provider are better able to manage their chronic ailments. However, in many instances, physicians are also able to prevent the onset of chronic conditions by keeping an eye on lifestyle practices and family history.
3. For Referral
Being able to see a specialist physician may be a hectic task – until your primary care provider refers you to them. A PCP may refer you to a specialist in two scenarios. First when the disease fails to comply with the ongoing medications. Other when the prognosis worsens and the patient is at risk. However, a PCP may work synergistically with a specialist to eradicate the chances of drug-drug interaction. This is particularly important if/when the patient is being seen by numerous specialist physicians simultaneously.
4. For Annual Exams
Those who wish to maintain their health status, wellbeing, and quality of life should opt for annual medical exams. Such yearly assessments are rendered more accessible and convenient if you have a primary care physician. Your PCP will schedule an annual wellness exam and compare the results with your previous medical data. Together the outcomes will help them derive a personalized plan that suits you the best.
5. For Lesser Hospital Visits
When you visit a primary care provider regularly, there’re lesser chances that you would have to go to the hospital. Whether it is an urgency or chronic care management, you may visit your PCP and save time and money.
How Can a Primary Care Provider Help You At Checkups?
Your routine lifestyle practices and medical history impact your overall health. If you visit a PCP on routine bases, they’ll help you to make informed decisions regarding your health. They may assist you in smoking cessation, better diet, or exertion. However, their main goal is to avoid diseases that might manifest owing to your current lifestyle or past medical history.
A PCP also provides vaccination services as a preventive measure. They also run screening tests such as mammograms to prevent diseases like breast cancer. The aim here is to detect a disease at an earlier stage.
In addition to chronic diseases, they also provide care for acute ailments, e.g rash or an infection.
Types of Primary Care Providers That You Can Schedule an Appointment With
An internist or an internal medicine doctor is a type of PCP that deals with patient demographics of age 18 years and above. Owing to their extensive training and clinical practice, internists are specialists in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of diseases. These medical ailments vary over a spectrum of complexity and may be as trivial as flu to as complex as cardiac issues You may visit an internist in a hospital or clinical setting or an outpatient setting.
What sets internists apart from other PCPs is their expertise in various diseases. Some internists who choose to additionally sub-specialize in pulmonology, cardiology, and endocrinology are better able to deal with specific organ systems. It renders more efficient in treating conditions like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid, asthma, and COPD.
What an internist is to adults, a pediatrician is to children. These are primary care physician that deal with patients below the age of 18 years of age i.e infants to young adults. Pediatricians may practice in an out-patient setting as well as in an inpatient facility. Some practice hybrid-specialty i.e. internal medicine-pediatrics or med-peds that provide care to both adults and children,
Pediatricians are trained to deal with diseases according to human physiology at a young age. They look after infants, toddlers, children, and young adults. They are also proficient in child development and hence more efficient understanding if a child’s meeting development milestones at the right age. Some pediatricians also subspecialize in adolescent medicine, child abuse pediatrics, development, and behavioral pediatrics, cardiology, and others.
3. Family Medicine Practitioner
A family medicine doctor cares for patients of all age demographics. Family medicine is the healthcare facility that offers primary care to the entire family. A family physician receives training to treat diseases according to the body’s physiology at all ages. They see patients in an outpatient setting where they diagnose, manage or treat any acute or chronic illness. Their treatment strategies might not be as targeted or comprehensive as previous types, but they offer care for better wellbeing. Scheduling an appointment with a family physician is convenient for people who want one doctor for their entire household. It helps them recieve quality care under one roof.
Geriatricians offer primary care to the elderly. They strategize the prevention of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and osteoporosis. Geriatricians endeavor to help patients maintain their quality of life with various debilitating diseases.
Despite our growing chances of developing various chronic diseases due to our lifestyles, having a PCP can ensure a better future. Book an appointment with your PCP and pledge to see them regularly for a healthier life.