by: Dr. Terry Buchanan, Medical Director of Advanced Primary Care of Southern New Hampshire Health

Why (Most) Everyone Needs a PCP

A primary care provider serves as the cornerstone of your health care. These physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are trained to provide comprehensive, holistic care that takes into account your medical history, lifestyle, and overall well-being. They are your first line of defense in preventive health care, not just a last resort for illness. The goal is to build a long-term relationship with a PCP. This ensures that you receive consistent, coordinated care. They get to know you, your medical history, and your specific health needs, allowing for more personalized care.

In addition, PCPs emphasize preventive care, which includes regular check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations. This proactive approach can identify health issues early on, potentially preventing serious illnesses. They are also there to help you manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or asthma, and ensure your medications and treatment plans are appropriate and effective. When necessary, your PCP can refer you to specialists, ensuring you receive the right care from the right provider.


How to Select the Right PCP

The process of selecting a primary care provider can be daunting, but it is important to find the provider that is right for you. Start by researching PCPs in your area. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues, and check online reviews and ratings. Most importantly, make sure they are board-certified. Also, consider the location and office hours of the PCP. A nearby practice with flexible hours makes it easier to schedule appointments and stick to regular check-ups. Importantly, check that the PCP you select is in-network with your insurance plan. This can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Choose someone that you can talk to and understands your needs and goals. A good PCP should be an excellent communicator, capable of listening to your concerns and explaining medical information in a way you can understand. An empathetic and approachable demeanor is a plus. Depending on your specific health care needs, you may want to look for a PCP with expertise in a particular area, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or sports medicine.

When you’ve chosen a candidate, schedule an initial consultation or appointment to gauge your comfort level with the PCP. Trust and good rapport are crucial for a long-lasting doctor-patient relationship. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the PCP’s approach to health care, availability for urgent issues, and how they handle referrals to specialists. The efficiency and friendliness of the office staff can significantly impact your overall experience. A well-organized practice can save you time and stress.

Having a primary care provider is essential for maintaining good health and preventing illness. They offer personalized care, continuity, and a gateway to the broader health care system. When choosing a PCP, take your time, do your research, and consider your specific needs and preferences. The right PCP can make a substantial difference in your well-being, helping you lead a healthier, happier life. So, don’t wait until you’re unwell; make a primary care provider a vital part of your health care journey today.

Dr. Terry Buchanan is the Medical Director of Advanced Primary Care of Southern New Hampshire Health and a graduate of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Tufts University School of Medicine.