So, a primary care physician is not just a title, or a box to check off on paperwork. It is the designation you give to someone with whom you have a very personal relationship. The role of the primary care physician is to oversee your overall health, to guide you to a healthy lifestyle, to recommend things that will prevent illness, to anticipate your needs and help you understand what to expect, and to treat you when you do become ill. Your primary care physician should be your “go-to” when you have health concerns, because they know you best. They can provide most of your medical care, and they will refer you to the appropriate specialist when necessary.
In choosing a primary care physician, it is important to remember that people are not all one-size-fits-all. Neither are physicians. You have unique needs and should choose a primary care physician that best fits those needs. Primary care is a role, and not a specialty. Physicians in a number of different specialties, each with advanced training in the care of a specific population, can provide primary care services. In fact, internists, family practice physicians, pediatricians, geriatricians, and women’s health physicians are all qualified primary care physicians.
Internal Medicine Physicians
Physicians who specialize in internal medicine, also known as internists, are experts in the care of adult patients. Their focus is not only on health promotion and disease prevention, but also in the diagnosis and treatment of both acute and chronic illness. Internists are extremely good diagnosticians, often referred to as the detectives of medicine, which is why they are experts at treating patients who are experiencing health challenges. However, their goal is to keep you as healthy as possible, which is why they will also make sure you are getting your scheduled immunizations, are up-to-date on appropriate screening like mammograms and cholesterol levels, and understand the lifestyle choices that promote good health.
Family Practice Physicians
Family practice physicians have specialized training in the care of individuals and families throughout the lifespan. This means that they are qualified to care for infants, children, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and older adults. The focus of family medicine is very comprehensive, treating the whole individual, with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention. However, like internists, they will also treat both acute and chronic illnesses for their patients.
While some people prefer to have one doctor for the entire family, others feel more comfortable having a doctor who specializes in the care of children as the primary care physician for their kids. Pediatricians are board certified in the care of infants, children, and adolescents, ranging from newborns to the age of 21. Childhood is a time of rapid growth and development. Important developmental landmarks mark each stage of life, and it is important to not only be observant that they are being met, but to also foster activities and behaviors that help children learn and grow. Additionally, a lifetime of healthy habits, including staying current on immunizations, having regular checkups, eating healthy diets, and getting adequate exercise can be fostered throughout childhood. A pediatrician is not only an ideal source of guidance and information, but is also highly qualified to treat illnesses associated with childhood.
Just like children, older adults are faced with challenges unique to their age. Not only is chronic illness more common in adults 65 and older, but also, additional syndromes such as falls, memory loss, and hearing loss become more prevalent. As we advance in age to 65, 75, 85 years, or older, it becomes increasingly beneficial to be under the care of a physician with specialized knowledge of the care of older adults. A geriatrician is a physician that has such training. They are board certified in caring for adults 65 and older, and like other primary care physicians, will address health promotion, disease prevention, and management of illnesses, recognizing the unique and multidimensional needs of their patients.
Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Physicians
Women have very unique healthcare needs throughout their lifespan. As such, some women, especially during their childbearing years, choose to elect their OB/GYN physician as their primary care physician. Women who are pregnant, or who are trying to get pregnant, have very specific concerns, including nutrition, exercise, and the safe use of medications. Additionally, hormone irregularities as well as illnesses associated with the reproductive tract can have a significant impact on a woman’s overall health. For these reasons, doctors that have specialized knowledge of women’s health issues, such as OB/BYN physicians, are a reasonable choice for primary care.
At Advanced Medical PA, we are concerned about the health and wellbeing of you and your entire family, and we are committed to helping you maintain good health. If you have questions about primary care or the services we provide, please call us at (561) 434-1935 to request an appointment, or request one online.