Health is not only a reflection of the state of your body. It has a great deal to do with you and everything around you. In fact, the World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being”. Your lifestyle, your genetics, your financial situation, your stress level, your workplace environment, the wellbeing of your family – the safety of your community and society in general – are some of the many factors that your family doctor will have knowledge of as he or she guides you to a healthier state. So what exactly does it mean to be a family doctor?
Family medicine is a medical specialty that involves the care of individuals and families throughout the lifespan. In each stage of life, people have characteristic risks and unique needs. An infant is completely dependent on others for survival. Toddlers need guidance and encouragement as they learn about their environment and how to interact with others and society. Teenagers are in a stage of rapid growth and development, when positive and negative environmental and social influences can shape their futures. And older adults are faced with the natural challenges associated with aging. A family medicine provider understands each of these stages and is uniquely qualified to promote health, prevent illness, and treat diseases for their patients at all ages.
The Role of the Primary Care Provider
Your family doctor will be the primary care provider for your entire family. Today’s healthcare system is large and complex. When you are healthy, it may be simple to make it to your annual check up. However, staying healthy is a little more complicated. Your primary care provider is the one person in the system that knows you (and your children and spouse) and has your best interest at heart. He or she will not only perform annual exams, but will make sure you have all the recommended screening tests like mammograms or cholesterol levels done. They will also advise you of necessary immunizations to prevent avoidable infections, as well as educate you on a healthy lifestyle.
These are all very important activities to keep you free from illness – strong of mind and body. However, having a primary care provider is even more important when you do get sick. Knowing your medical history, including the medications you take, what works best for you, and what your preferences are, are invaluable when treating someone with an acute illness. You want a doctor that you know and trust, to turn to when you are at your most vulnerable.
Benefits of Having a Family Doctor
Have you ever had to see a doctor that you did not know in an urgent situation? Imagine experiencing a new and concerning symptom – one distressing enough that you feel the need to go to the doctor. If you do not have a family doctor, you can expect to either spend a great deal of time explaining your past history, or at worst, receive treatment based on partial or inaccurate information. A family doctor, as the name would suggest, knows you and your family. You, most likely, have established a good relationship, and have shared your complete medical history. This would also have included your family history, such as any relatives who may have had heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or any other potentially hereditary illnesses.
This doctor will be aware of information that you may not realize is important, but that can make a big difference in your recovery, like whether you are married or have children, if you live alone, if you have a support system, whether you have transportation, and whether you are able to get a new prescription filled. Medicine is not only treating disease; it is understanding the needs of each individual patient within their unique environment and set of circumstances, and finding a way to help them achieve their highest level of health.
Your family doctor will also be in touch with your community. Infection and disease often occurs in patterns that are unique to geographical locations. For instance, antibiotics that may be effective against bacteria in Florida may not be the right choice in New Jersey. Additionally, they will be aware of what is “going around” in the local schools and workplaces. Your family doctor is in the position to protect not only you from injury or illness, but also your spouse or children. He or she will guide you so that you can anticipate potential risks, take action to prevent injury or illness, and recover quickly if you do become ill. Having a family doctor that you know and trust is the first step in securing a healthy and happy life for you and each member of your family.
If you are interested in finding our more about primary care, family medicine, or the services we provide at Advanced Medical, PA, please call us at (561) 434-1935 to request an appointment, or request one online.