Whatever your age is or health conditions you might have, you can benefit from a primary care provider. This type of provider can help keep you well, save you money and become your advocate in the world of health care. They can be physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants.
But not all primary care providers are the same, there are actually several types. A few different factors will help you determine which provider is right for you.
When most people think of primary care providers, they probably think of family practitioners. These doctors are suitable for everyone in your family. They can help treat many illnesses and chronic conditions. You can go to them when you have the flu or when you need an annual checkup.
When you have a condition that’s beyond their scope of practice or could benefit from more specialized care, they’ll recommend a type of doctor called a specialist. Specialists focus on specific health conditions or body systems. However, a family practitioner can handle most of your regular health needs.
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in general health care for babies, toddlers, children and teens. Some young adults see them, too. Their main job is focusing on your child’s general health. They may also treat some childhood diseases. They provide vaccinations, check-ups, physicals and regular screenings. Their goal is to help make sure your little one is growing up to be a healthy adult. They can also diagnose some health problems or help children with long-term illnesses.
Internists or internal medicine doctors are primary care providers for adults only. They can treat or help manage almost any health condition. Adults who have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease may benefit from seeing an internist for care. Similar to a family practitioner, internists will refer you to a specialist if your health situation becomes more complicated. Internists can help you manage your medication, care for illness and provide preventative health care.
Seniors can benefit from seeing family practitioners and internists, but they can also see someone who specializes in the changing health needs of seniors. Geriatric doctors treat patients who are over the age of 60. They can help with preventative care and with long-term conditions.
One of the goals of a geriatric primary care provider is to help seniors remain healthy and independent. They may manage medication or conditions that tend to affect older people. They can also screen for dementia and the mental health changes that often come with aging.
While OB-GYNs aren’t technically primary care providers, seeing an OB-GYN in addition to your internist or family medicine provider is a great way to stay on top of your health. An OB-GYN specializes in women’s health. They fully understand women’s reproductive systems. It’s especially important to see one if you’re pregnant or planning to have a baby.
Even if you aren’t pregnant or planning to have a child, your OB-GYN can provide tests like mammograms and pap smears that you need regularly. Girls may begin seeing an OB-GYN when they reach their teenage years and continue all the way through their adult years.
No matter your age, a primary care provider should be a part of your personal plan to maintain your health. Learn about the primary care services we offer at Bon Secours.