Tips for Choosing a Primary Care Provider
In healthcare, it's not who you know that matters, but who knows you. And the better your Primary Care Provider gets to know you, the better care he or she can provide.
But choosing a Primary Care Provider can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Which doctor is right for you? And how do you change doctors if it's just not working out? Developing and maintaining a strong relationship with your Primary Care Provider is so important to your overall health that going through this process is well worth the effort. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Why It's So Important
A primary care physician is a doctor who is trained to provide a wide range of preventative and long-term healthcare services. Typically, primary care is separated into Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
At Dean Clinic, our care team—consisting of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and other patient care staff—are well suited for people who want a long-term relationship.
Some advantages of having an established primary care physician include:
- Staying healthier because of regular checkups,immunizations and screenings
- Management and coordination of all your healthcare needs
- Easy access for immediate care needs
Whom to Choose
Primary care physicians specialize in different areas, and each specialty has its own benefits. A basic summary might help you narrow your search:
- Family Medicine (with or without Obstetrics) focuses on health care for individuals and families of all ages. This includes routine and preventive care, treatment of acute and chronic illness, and coordination of your overall care. Some Family Medicine physicians also include Obstetrics (the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth).
- Internal Medicine focuses on adult patients and the aging process. Internists generally see patients over 18 years old. They also frequently care for patients with multiple ongoing health conditions. They provide preventative care, age-related screenings and health guidance.
- Pediatrics is a specialty which treats children from birth to their late teens. While pediatricians see healthy children for primary care, they also help children who have special or difficult health conditions. Pediatricians provide ongoing screenings, immunizations and preventative care throughout childhood.
How to Choose
Dr. Vogt and Dr. Pogorelova suggest the following tips to get you started:
- Establish Your Priorities — Decide what's most important to you. Do you want details or do you prefer a simple recommendation? Do you care if your doctor is a man or a woman? More experienced or on the cutting edge of new treatments and technologies? Always on time or always willing to take as much time as necessary?
- Get Recommendations — Talk to your family and friends to find out who they would recommend. If they love their doctor, find out why. Do their reasons match the priorities you've established?
- Make an Introductory Appointment — Many physicians will offer an initial ‘get to know you' appointment to meet the doctor, learn about the team he or she may work with (nurses and advanced practitioners) and ask questions you might have about the way they practice. It's a good way to see if personalities mesh and priorities are met.
Additional Helpful Tips and Resources
- To assist in your search, visit our online provider directory to search by ZIP code, medical specialty or clinic location.
- Call Dean on Call and ask for help in choosing a primary care physician. This line is staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day (800) 576-8773.
A Strong Relationship is Key
Both doctors agree the key to choosing the right Primary Care Provider is a good relationship. "In this area, the healthcare services are excellent; there are a lot of options," says Dr. Vogt. "So it really comes down to finding someone whose personality is compatible with yours and someone who is going to work hard for you." That means you may end up changing doctors if you just don't "click." "Don't feel guilty about changing or questioning," Dr. Vogt reassures. "Find someone you trust."
"It's so important to have a good relationship," says Dr. Pogorelova. "If you establish a good relationship with your doctor when you're healthy, then you feel more comfortable when you need to come because you're sick. I know my patients' medical problems, and I know them."