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If you find yourself in need of medical care, it may be difficult to know where to start. With urgent care clinics, family medicine, emergency rooms, and specialist doctors to choose from, getting the care you need may seem overwhelming. One important branch of the medical system is primary care doctors, often known as family doctors. While all parts of the medical system work together to offer the most comprehensive care, there is simply no replacement for a primary care physician. Read on to learn more about family medicine and have some of your most common questions answered, so you can obtain the care you need when you need it most.

What Is a Primary Care/Family Physician?

Primary care physicians or family doctors are a crucial element in maintaining your overall wellness, getting treatment for seasonal illness, and managing any chronic conditions you may have. These physicians are a catchall for everything from seasonal allergies, to yearly physicals, or even chronic conditions like diabetes. They have a broad scope of practice and are particularly good at providing preventive care, treating illness, and managing chronic illnesses. They also have the ability to refer patients for specialized care whenever necessary.

Primary care physicians build lifelong relationships with their patients and help them to live healthy lifestyles over the years. These physicians are equipped to address the physical, mental, and emotional health of their patients. As a matter of fact, physicians screen for abuse, mental health conditions, and obtain information about the patient’s current lifestyle. Family doctors come alongside their patients to ensure they have a plan to live a healthy lifestyle and are equipped to make changes whenever necessary so they can enjoy life to the fullest. Ultimately, a primary care doctor is one of the most critical aspects of comprehensive healthcare.

What Types of Medical Care Do Primary Care Physicians Offer?

Primary care doctors treat a wide range of conditions and provide many healthcare services. They are equipped to manage chronic conditions, advise patients on wellness plans to prevent chronic conditions, and treat a wide range of illnesses, injuries, and infections. Whenever necessary, your primary care physician can diagnose and refer you to a specialty practitioner who will also play an important role in the management/treatment of certain conditions. Primary care doctors typically provide services such as preventative care, pediatrics, yearly physicals, well visits, vaccinations, women's health services, behavioral health, long-term management of chronic conditions, sports medicine, lab work, diagnosis and treatment of conditions, treatment of seasonal illnesses, weight loss management and nutritional assistance, and screenings for dementia, cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and more. Ultimately, primary care doctors offer an expansive range of health services and can help you get the care you need when you need it!

What Are the Benefits of Having A Primary Care/Family Physician?

There are many great benefits that come with having your own family doctor. Consider these below:

1.) They Are Familiar with Your Conditions - Your family doctor knows your medical history, allowing them to provide the best care possible for you.

2.) They Can Refer You to Specialists When Necessary - If your health needs require specialized care, your family doctor can refer you to the right provider. Not only is this often necessary due to insurance requirements, but it also alleviates the stress of trying to find the right provider to handle your condition.

3.) They Can Help You Live a Healthy Lifestyle - Your family doctor can assist you in making healthy decisions and provide guidance on how to live a healthy lifestyle, helping you to avoid the onset of preventable diseases for a fuller lifespan.

4.) They Offer a Wide Range of Services - Your family doctor can offer a wide range of services, including screening and prevention, wellness advice, chronic condition management, and more. Having a regular primary care doctor helps ensure you get quality care, regardless of your medical needs.  

5.) Prescriptions and Refills - Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician helps ensure you are prescribed the medication you need and are able to obtain refills when necessary.

A quality family doctor is worth his or her weight in gold, helping you and yours to maintain peak health all throughout the year.

Do Family Doctors Accept Medical Insurance?

Yes, most family doctors accept medical insurance, although depending upon your specific insurance plan there may be a small co-pay or deductible required. The majority of pediatricians and specialists also accept insurance. Despite this, it is important to ask your doctor what insurance plans they accept prior to making your first appointment, so you don't find yourself with a surprise bill later.

 

Why Is Having a Primary Care Doctor Important?

Having an ongoing relationship with your primary care doctor is important to your health and well-being. While medical clinic are a helpful part of today's medical care system, they absolutely are not meant to replace the role of primary care doctors. While they can provide quick, convenient services (after hours or on weekends), if you become sick or injured, they are not meant to manage chronic conditions. Moreover, primary care doctors know your full medical history, including your family history, so they can help you prevent the onset of diseases, manage chronic conditions, and ensure you don't have medication interactions. The long-term relationship you form with a family physician simply cannot be replicated by the quick in and out culture of medical clinics.

What Information Should I Bring with Me To An Appointment With A Primary Care Physician?

When arriving at an appointment with your primary care physician you may be asked to provide the documentation listed below:

1.) Identification - Most medical offices will require you to bring identification with you to your appointment, such as your driver's license, military ID, state ID, or passport to verify you are the patient. 

2.) Insurance Information - If you have health insurance, it will be important to bring your card with you when you come in for your appointment. Additionally, be sure to bring along any co-pays that are due at the time of service.

3.) Bring a List of Medications - It is important that your doctor is aware of all prescription medications, over the counter medications, vitamins, and supplements that you take on a regular basis to avoid drug interactions or overdoses.

Providing the correct documentation will expedite the process of seeing your doctor and will ensure your medical history is correct and up to date.

In conclusion, the right primary care doctor is a critical part of maintaining good health throughout the lifespan. With this in mind, don't neglect your health a day longer. Find a primary care physician that you trust and take back your health!

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