A primary care physician (PCP) is more than just the person you call when you feel sick or suffer an injury. He or she follows the latest research on disease risk factors and can tell you how to lower your individual risk. Like a good coach or teacher, a primary care doctor will encourage you to make healthy lifestyle changes, keep track of your preventive tests and treatments, and help you through illnesses. This person may also become the custodian of your health history and the doctor other doctors will call for information if you’re ever hospitalized for a serious medical condition.
A PCP is your main healthcare provider in non-emergency situations. Your PCP's role is to:
Primary care doctors include family medicine physicians for patients of all ages, internal medicine physicians for adult patients, and pediatricians for children. So, you have many choices when it comes to picking a doctor. Developing a relationship with your PCP helps them know what is and isn’t normal for you. They are able to track and note the changes they observe.
Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment are better. By getting the right health services, screenings and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life.
In addition to diagnosing and treating acute medical conditions, your doctor recommends a schedule for preventive screenings and provides education about health and wellness. That’s why it’s important to see a primary care doctor regularly, even if you don’t have any current health issues.