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4 important reasons to have a primary care provider

Wellness | Women’s Health | May 20, 2021
types of primary care providers
Whether you’re generally healthy or have chronic conditions, it’s good to have a health partner.

Primary care providers can help with a variety of health issues or concerns. If you’re in good health you might see your primary care provider only once a year for annual checkups, but if you have chronic conditions or more frequent health concerns, your PCP visits might happen more often. 

“Your primary care provider is your partner in health,” says Sarah Winslow, MD, who provides family medicine care at PeaceHealth Union Station clinic. “Together, we create a plan for keeping you healthy or to manage ongoing issues so that you can live your healthiest life.”

Read on to learn about the types of primary care providers you can choose from. See which one may be best suited for you or your family. 

Four reasons to have a PCP

A primary care provider:

  1. Provides preventive care for life-long health management. Regular exams with a single provider can make it easier to detect health issues earlier, which may provide more treatment options.

  2. Offers a consistent source of care and referrals to other medical specialists. In addition to having knowledge on a wide range of health issues, e.g. preventive care and screenings, a primary care provider can make additional recommendations to other providers as needed.

  3. Knows your medical history and your family history. Does heart disease run in your family? A primary care provider can provide advice that may help you as well as your children or other relatives.

  4. Typically costs less than other care options, such as a hospital emergency department. Taking full advantage of the services offered by a primary care provider can help you save time and money and may prevent an issue from getting worse, requiring a visit to the emergency department. 

Types of primary care physicians

Internal medicine:

  • Provides comprehensive medical (non-surgical) care to adults, generally over the age of 18.
  • Treats a variety of illnesses and conditions, conducts health screenings and physical exams, and offers primary, wellness and preventive healthcare.

Pediatricians:

  • Specially trained to care for infants, children and teens.
  • Provides annual physicals, monitors and gives necessary immunizations and evaluates your child’s medical development and social health.

Internal medicine-pediatric:  

  • Two types of providers in one – trained in both internal medicine and pediatrics. 
  • These doctors care for kids and adults and can help prevent, treat and diagnose disease. Their broad expertise may be appealing to a family because all of their care can be done by one provider. 

Family medicine:

  • Provides comprehensive medical (non-surgical) care for the whole family, from newborns to seniors.
  • Treats a variety of illnesses and conditions, conducts health screenings and physical exams, and offers primary, wellness and preventive healthcare.

OB-GYNs:   

  • Specialize in women’s health, specifically female reproductive health e.g. pelvic exams and mammograms, but may also be able to provide preventive services like an annual flu shot.
  • Women may choose an OB-GYN as their only primary care provider if they’re otherwise in good health.

“Whichever provider you choose, come to your visits ready to answer questions about your health history and to discuss your most important concerns,” says Dr. Winslow. “And if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. We’re here to help you.”

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