Selecting A Primary Care Provider
Even if you don’t get sick very often, having a regular doctor is important. Your PCP can get to know you. Then you can trust your PCP to make the right decisions about your health.
Your PCPs is there to:
- Teach you about healthy choices and ways to prevent illness.
- Treat you when you’re sick and find out what the problem is.
- Know when you have an emergency and send you to the best place to take care of it.
- Refer you to the right specialist, when you need one.
PCPs have different titles and specialize in different areas of medicine:
- Doctors who are general practitioners treat the most common medical problems in people of all ages. They often specialize in family medicine. They also may do small operations in the office.
- Internists take care of adults of all ages for many different medical problems.
- Obstetricians/gynecologists are doctors who treat women and their unique health issues. They often serve as a PCP for women, particularly those of childbearing age.
- Physician assistants (PAs) work with a doctor as a team. They can do most of what doctors do, but must be supervised by a doctor.
- Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses (RNs) with more education and training in a specialty area such as family practice or pediatrics.
How to choose a PCP
Below are some important things for you to consider when choosing a PCP.
- How friendly is the office staff? Are they helpful? Do they return your calls?
- Is the office open when you need it to be?
- How easy it is to reach the PCP? Can you reach them via email?
- Do you prefer a PCP that is friendly and warm, or one that’s more formal and to the point? Ask the office staff what type of doctor he or she is.
- Is the PCP known for treating diseases or for preventing them?
- What do colleagues and patients say about the PCP? Check on the Internet for reviews.
- Ask your friends, neighbors or relatives for recommendations. You can also ask your dentist, pharmacist or insurance company questions that help you make a decision.
You can search for providers on the Find a Provider page.