Do you have a primary care provider?
February 9, 2024
A primary care provider, also known as a PCP, is your go-to for all your medical care – annual check-ups, preventive care, health conditions, and illnesses that pop up. As a primary care provider in Family Medicine, my goal is to help people reach their full potential in health and wellness – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Alyssa Richardson APRN, DNP, FNP-C
Primary care providers prevent and treat illnesses and help people effectively manage health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. When specialty care is needed, your primary care provider can refer you to specialists and coordinate and follow your care and treatment.
That’s why it’s important to find a PCP that you can get to know and trust.
Who needs a primary care provider?
Everyone! A primary care provider is needed in all stages of life. Even when you’re a young and healthy adult. Think of your PCP like a healthcare coach who can see the whole field and help you stay on top of your game.
Evidence shows that primary care providers help people lead a healthier, happier and longer life. U.S. adults who regularly see a primary care physician have 19% lower odds of dying prematurely and 33% lower health care costs than those who see only a specialist reports the Purchaser Business Group on Health and Forbes.
How does a primary care provider help you stay healthy?
Preventive care. A primary care provider is trained to prevent disease and health conditions. Examples of preventive care are annual check-ups, blood pressure checks and vaccinations.
At annual check-ups, your primary care provider can get to know you and your health risks. It’s a chance to talk about your health, your health history, medications and your family medical history. Working together, you and your primary care provider can detect issues and prevent problems down the road.
In these annual visits, we often recommend health screenings. Screenings are medical tests that are used to check – or screen – for health conditions and cancer before there are signs and symptoms. Common screenings are mammograms and colonoscopies.
We may also recommend a simple blood test that measures cholesterol and sugar levels in your blood. Your numbers – cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure – are a good snapshot of your health. Your primary care provider can help you improve your numbers and your health. We support patients to quit smoking or vaping, eat healthy, reduce stress or get active. Lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping you live well.
How do I find a primary care provider?
Primary care is available in several clinical departments.
- Family Medicine providers care for people of all ages from newborn to seniors.
- Internal Medicine providers care for adults, especially those with multiple conditions or complex care needs.
- Pediatric providers care for children and treat a broad range of childhood illnesses from minor health problems to serious diseases.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) providers care for women and specialize in the reproductive system, pregnancy and childbirth.
Primary care providers can be physicians who are Medical Doctors (MD) or Doctors of Osteopathy (DO). Primary care providers can also be Nurse Practitioners (APRN, CNP or DNP) who complete a master’s or doctorate level of clinical education and a supervised or collaborative program. Physician assistants (PA-C) have a master’s level degree and complete a supervised or collaborative program.