Which Primary Care Physician Is Best For Your Needs?

A primary care physician is required by most insurance policies. Your primary care physician is your first line of defense in your medical care. They are the ones that you will see for things as routine as a sore throat, a flu shot, and your yearly physical. Some will even provide gynecological exams. They are also skilled professionals that will know when you present with a problem outside their expertise and need to see a specialist. But how do you go about choosing a primary care physician? Here is what you need to know to determine who would be the best fit for your needs.

If you have insurance, you will likely have to choose from a network of approved doctors. The insurance companies broker with select physicians for discounted fees. But even if you don't have insurance parameters to follow, a primary care physician is still the best choice rather than seeing specialists on an as needed basis.

Once you have the list of approved primary care physicians, it's time to narrow down your options. Typically, doctors will be broken down by pediatricians, internists, family practice, and general practice.

  • Pediatricians deal with the medical needs and common childhood diseases of infants and children.
  • Internal medicine doctors treat adults, specializing in general issues as well as the management of chronic diseases and conditions.
  • A family practitioner specializes in patients from infancy through old age. Many times, they will also tend to women's issues as well.
  • A general practitioner is similar to a family doctor, but they often hold a Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) designation rather than a Medical Doctor (M.D.) These are still fully licensed and qualified physicians that practice in many areas, but they tend to take a holistic approach to medicine, considering the whole body, nutrition, and the patient's lifestyle. They also tend to be more open to alternative health options. Their philosophy differs from most medical doctors in that they view health and wellness from more than just an absence of disease or pain, and that things like exercise and proper nutrition can aid the human body in self-healing.

The primary care physician you choose may very well be your doctor throughout all of the stages of your life, or it may change if your insurance changes or the doctor leaves the network, but regardless, choose a doctor who you feel comfortable with discussing your health and wellness issues, listens to your concerns, and answers your questions. For more information, contact services such as Rural Health Services Consortium Inc.