Many times, people wonder why they need a primary care provider. Becoming established with a PCP has many benefits for a person, regardless of age.

Many times, people wonder why they need a primary care provider. Becoming established with a PCP has many benefits for a person, regardless of age.

Urgent care clinics are becoming increasingly popular, but are not always your best option. They can be advantageous if you are traveling and in need of non-emergent care. Many people are using these clinics as a means of primary care, which is not what they were intended for. While this type of clinic will serve an immediate purpose, the provider you see will not know your background or be a source for routine health maintenance. Not having a primary care physician means giving up important, long term benefits. Whether it’s a pediatrician, internist, or family practice provider, your PCP will treat you with your medical and family history in mind.

Aside from you, your PCP should be the most important member of your healthcare team. Your PCP is your first line of defense in getting well and staying well. Over time, your PCP will get to know you as a person, not just your body. You will be able to talk about anything that is bothering you physically and mentally. They learn what is and what isn’t normal for you. A routine office visit can be lifesaving. For example, hypertension, also called the “Silent Killer”, may be present without a person’s knowledge. One does not want to wait until they present to an ER with a stroke. This is just one way that your PCP may help prevent an adverse outcome. Relationships are built over time. As with any relationship, you must communicate honestly with one another. When you are ill, it’s easier to have a doctor you know and can trust.

Your PCP will help you navigate the healthcare maze. He or she will help you find the best specialist, if you need one; be knowledgeable regarding all of your medications and supplements and inform you of any interactions. Your PCP also orders tests and other diagnostics you need at each stage of your life; and answers any questions you have regarding your care. Certain screenings your PCP can do or arrange for you are, but certainly not limited to: mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes, and cholesterol. Although you may see certain specialists, such as gynecologists or cardiologists, they are not PCP’s. Some will treat a medical issue you inform them of while you are at an office visit, but remember, they studied in an area of specialty. Your cardiologist would like to focus on your heart condition, rather than your reflux.

Your PCP will get to know your values, your family situation, your job pressures, stressors in life and even your goals. This is very important, as these areas can impact your overall health. Having a doctor that knows you well is invaluable.

“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs.” – Lauren Welsh.

Michelle Aguilera is the administrator and Ballinger Home Health and Hospice of Ballinger and a member of the Health and Wellness Coalition of Runnels County. Members meet on the first Thursday of the first full week of the month.