By Isaiah Cochran, MD
What is a primary care physician? Why is a primary care physician so important? How can I go about making sure that I am being seen by my primary care physician as often as possible? These are three questions to address.
People remember the heyday of medicine. This was also the time when many people referred to family medicine physicians as general practitioners, and during this time it was very common for these individuals to go to their patients’ homes. As technology has advanced and medicine has become more specialized, society now views doctors as experts in one area. However, it is very important to remember primary care physicians and their role in society and how they are integral in preventing disease.
Primary care physicians serve on the front lines of healthcare. For many individuals, these providers are the first point of contact with the healthcare system. Primary care physicians deal with chronic issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, early signs of cancer, acute colds, psychiatric ailments, and so much more. Primary care physicians also focus on preventative medicine which is a very important topic. This includes screenings for cancer such as lung, breast, and colon. This also includes preventative vaccines such as the HPV, pneumonia, flu, shingles and more. It is common for individuals to view visiting the physician as something that needs only be done when they are injured or not feeling well. The American Academy of Family Physicians as well as other primary care organizations are trying to change his mindset. It is so imperative to have a physician who knows you well so they can help prevent disease from occurring.
I encourage everyone to establish with a primary care physician no matter their age or health. You can think of your primary care physician as your team member to help you reach your optimum level of health. If you are seeing your primary care provider at least once yearly, data shows that healthcare outcomes are much more positive than for individuals who go years at a time without seeing a primary care physician.
Another aspect of your primary care physician that is not directly related to work in the clinic, is that they are a voice for you when it comes to speaking out for the community. Many physicians participate in policy and advocacy so they can speak up for their patients for affordable health care and access to testing and medications they need. When training to become a primary care physician, you realize that your work in the clinic is just as important as addressing factors that influence your patients’ health care outside of the clinic.
It is with this in mind that as a family medicine physician, who strongly believes in preventative medicine and equal care for all, that I urge everyone to visit their doctor to ensure that they are not only currently healthy but have received all their preventative screenings to stay healthy and live a wonderful, happy, joyous, life with loved ones.
Isaiah Cochran, MD
Center for Family and Sports Medicine