5 Types Of Primary Care Doctors And How To Choose Which Is Right For You
Did you know that having a primary care provider is linked with better health and longevity? According to a 2019 case study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, it was revealed that people belonging to U.S counties with greater primary care physicians number have a longer life expectancy. The reason is obvious – when you have a primary care provider to go to, you are better able to prevent and diagnose diseases at their earliest stage. However, there are certain kinds of PCPs including internist, family practitioners, and geriatrics. Here, we’ll help you find best internist near me by educating whether they’re the right choice or not.
Who Is a Primary Care Provider?
The first healthcare door that you knock on is that of a primary care physician. They are medical professionals who practice general medicine and provide care that is diverse in nature. A primary care provider strives to establish optimum health and wellness. They generally look after the entire family and focus on prevention as well as management of acute and chronic diseases.
While practicing general healthcare, a primary care practitioner helps you with:
- Preventive care for those who’re at risk for disease by their family history or current lifestyle, e.g., cancer, diabetes, and hypertension are a few examples of both hereditary and environmental diseases.
- Treatment of common ailments such as cold, fever, flu, headache
- Early diagnosis of health conditions
- Management of chronic diseases
- Referral to other specialists.
Many people who once visit a primary care physician, choose to stay with them for the rest of their lives. Throughout this period, the physician is accustomed to their patient’s lifestyle and medical history. Hence, they’re able to offer personalized care that develops a reputable and trusted relationship.
Why Do You Need a Primary Care Doctor?
The importance of regularly visiting a PCP cannot be emphasized enough. They do not only look after your health and wellbeing but also prevent the onset of potential diseases. With routine checkups, the physician is enabled to detect disease at the earliest stage. Hence, they’re better able to manage it before the prognosis begins to worsen. For diseases that are not managed by typical treatment strategies, a PCP will also refer you to a specialist.
What Kind of Primary Care Physicians Would You Often Require?
An internist is an internal medicine physician who deals with patients over 18 years of age. They specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of the chronic conditions. An internist, through their extensive training, is capable of treating a wide range of diseases that vary in complexity. Internists work in various care settings including private clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Some internal medicine providers choose to subspecialize in fields such as pulmonology, endocrinology, rheumatology, and cardiology. Hence, they’re more efficient in treating common conditions like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid, asthma, and COPD.
You will need an internist as one physician that offers comprehensive and personalized treatment. They are not only well-versed in prevention but are efficient in treating a number of diseases in adults. Their sub-specialization renders them capable of looking after diseases that a general medicine practitioner might refer you to a specialist for.
Just like an internist is a primary care doctor for adults, a pediatrician is for children. They are physicians that care for patients up to 18 years of age. While many pediatricians practice in an out-patient setting, some choose to work in an in-patient facility. Additionally, there’s a hybrid specialty known as internal medicine-pediatrics or med-peds who care for both children and adults in both care settings.
A pediatrician looks after patients from their birth, through their infancy, to early adulthood. They’re trained in dealing with illnesses that are common at such age and training strategies that complement the child’s physiology. Being experts in child development, pediatricians are able to quickly identify if a child’s not meeting development milestones at the right time. Some child specialists also choose to train in subspecialties such as adolescent medicine, child abuse pediatrics, development, and behavioral pediatrics, cardiology, and others.
If you need to consult a specialist that can well-manage your child’s health, you need to visit a pediatrician. They are professionals that are trained in the said age group and hence more capable of providing holistic treatments.
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Family Medicine Practitioner
As the name suggests, they are primary care providers that look after the entire family. Unlike an internist or a pediatrician, a family practitioner offers care to patients regardless of their age group. Family medicine is the healthcare facility that has been developed to offer primary care to the entire family unit.
Since the body’s physiology varies greatly in each age group, such physicians are trained to modify their treatment strategies accordingly. A family physician’s care lasts for a lifetime. From birth, through adolescence to midlife and old age, they walk with their patient through the phase of life. A family medicine practitioner practices in an out-patient setting and they are trained to diagnose, manage or treat any acute or chronic illness. While they do not provide treatment that is as holistic as the PCPs discussed earlier, they adequately manage routine diseases.
If you’re looking for a complete medical solution in one place, you should visit a family practitioner. Since they offer care to each age group, you can schedule an appointment for the entire family under one roof. From routine checkups and detailed assessments – they offer treatment that comes with convenience.
Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB-GYN)
OB-GYNs are primary care providers that specialize in women’s health. While an obstetrician cares for women throughout their pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum, a gynecologist deals with issues regarding birth control, childbirth, menopause, and menstruation. OB-GYNs also prescribe routine health screenings like Pap tests, pelvic exams, and STI testing. They may practice in an in-patient setting as well as an out-patient facility.
While an OB-GYN may not provide comprehensive care for routine health concerns – they’re the go-to choice for women’s health. You may visit them for family planning, for concerns regarding your menstrual cycle, or for efficient management of your pregnancy.
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Like a pediatrician focuses on children, a geriatrician cares for senior citizens. They are physicians that are trained to diagnose, manage, treat, and prevent diseases in the elderly. Geriatrics is a subspecialty that is taken up by internal medicine as additional training. It renders them capable of understanding the scope of elderly treatment and the complexity the body presents at such an age. Geriatricians are able to derive preventive strategies for age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and osteoporosis. By doing so, they help maintain the quality of life which is severely impaired by such diseases.
You’ll be advised to switch to a geriatrician once you’ve turned 65 since your medical needs now require an age-focused management strategy. You can book an appointment with a geriatric at an outpatient or inpatient setting, as well as nursing homes.
Live Healthy, Live Better
You may find an internist better suited for your needs or would think OB-GYN a better choice. However, no matter who you choose, it is impertinent to schedule regular appointments for a healthy life.