how to find a primary care doctor
Healthy Living

How to Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dec 22 2023

A primary care doctor plays a vital role in managing your general health and well-being, acting as the main point of contact within the medical system. But understanding how to find a primary care doctor can help you find the right provider for you.

Whether mandated by your insurance or not, having a primary care physician is an important part of who is part of your medical care team. They help you stay on top of your overall health and assist in disease screening and detection.

How often should I see my primary care provider?

The frequency of visits to your primary care provider, or PCP, can depend on several factors, including your age, overall health and any specific medical conditions you may have.

As a general guideline:

  • Healthy adults: For most healthy adults, an annual check-up or preventive visit is recommended. This allows your provider to conduct any necessary screenings and vaccinations.
  • Adults with chronic conditions: If you have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma, more frequent visits may be necessary to monitor your condition, adjust treatments and ensure optimal management.
  • Older adults: As you age, regular visits become increasingly important. Your doctor may recommend more frequent check-ups to monitor age-related conditions, manage medications and address any emerging health concerns.

To make the right choice when selecting a primary care provider, Sanjana Iddyadinesh, DO, one of our PCPs, recommends considering the following factors.

First, understand the benefits of having a primary care doctor.

Establishing a relationship with a PCP allows them to become familiar with your medical history and what is normal for your body. They can conduct tests to identify any underlying conditions or diseases that may go unnoticed. Additionally, PCPs often offer comprehensive care for your entire family, providing a centralized location for all your medical needs.

Second, decide if you would like to see an MD or DO.

When considering primary care providers, you will come across two types of doctors: those with an MD, or Doctor of Medicine degree, and those with a DO, or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. Both degrees require rigorous education and training, but here are the differences between the two.

Medical doctors, or MDs, follow the traditional allopathic approach to medicine. The focus is on diagnosing and treating medical conditions using evidence-based practices. MDs typically undergo four years of medical school after completing a bachelor’s degree. They then proceed to residency programs to specialize in various medical fields.

Osteopathic doctors, or DOs, take a more holistic approach to medicine, emphasizing the connection between the body’s systems and the person as a whole. In addition to the traditional medical training, DOs receive specialized education in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a hands-on technique that aims to restore balance and promote healing within the body. DOs also complete four years of medical school, followed by residency programs.

Choosing between an MD and a DO ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your health care journey. Both types of doctors can provide excellent care and have similar levels of medical knowledge. Having a nurse practitioner as a primary care provider is an option as well.

Third, learn what type of doctor is best for adults.

When it comes to choosing the best type of doctor for adults, several factors come into play. Both internists and family medicine practitioners are qualified to provide primary care for adults, but there are some distinctions.

Internists, also known as internal medicine physicians, specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and conditions that affect adults. They undergo comprehensive training focused on adult medicine, which equips them with a deep understanding of the unique health needs and challenges faced by adults. If you are an adult seeking specialized care or have complex medical conditions, an internist may be the ideal choice.

Family medicine practitioners are trained to treat patients of all ages, including adults. They offer comprehensive health care services, including preventive care, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of various conditions. Doctors in a family practice can be an excellent choice if you prefer the convenience of having one doctor for your entire family’s health care needs.

So again, this decision ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your health care journey.

And last but not least, decide what questions you want to ask your new primary care provider.

When narrowing down your list of doctors, first make sure they are accepting new patients. Once you find a doctor, asking the right questions can help you assess if they are the right fit for you.

Some good questions to consider using include:

  • What is your approach to preventive care?
  • How do you involve patients in decision-making about their health care?
  • How do you handle referrals to specialists?
  • What is your philosophy on medication management?
  • How do you stay updated on the latest medical advancements and research?
  • What is your preferred method of communication with patients?
  • Do you offer telehealth or virtual appointments?
  • How do you handle after-hours emergencies or urgent medical concerns?

Once you’ve found a primary care provider that you feel comfortable with, call your insurance company or visit their website to ensure they are in your plan’s network.

Figuring out how to find a primary care doctor who is right for you doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. We are here to help.

Learn more about the primary care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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