The reality of life is that everyone will get sick or injured at some point. When this occurs, the need for a trusted physician is often recognized. However, many people fail to invest in healthcare until something goes wrong. Having a regular family physician is an important part of maintaining your health and wellness, and can also make the process of receiving care when you are already sick or injured, easier and more efficient. Continue reading to learn more about why you should consider finding a regular family physician to manage your health! 

What Is a Family Physician?

A family physician is a doctor who has completed medical school and residency training specifically geared toward caring for patients and their family’s routine medical needs. These doctors have the knowledge and skills needed to diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, as well as perform preventative measures. They are able to provide primary care services such as physical exams, vaccinations, lab tests, treatments, and referrals. In addition, they may be able to coordinate other specialists’ visits and procedures for you.

Often, family physicians work closely with other members of the healthcare team including nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, chiropractors, and others. This allows them to provide comprehensive care by combining all aspects of patient health and wellness into one location.

Who Should Have One?

Everyone can benefit from having a family physician. You do not necessarily need to live in a certain area to receive quality care. The key thing to remember is that you want someone who cares about your overall health and wellness. If you feel like your current doctor does not meet these criteria, it might be time to find another provider.

If you are looking for a new family physician, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Find a doctor who takes your insurance plan. It is important to choose a doctor who accepts your insurance so that you do not have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for routine appointments.
  • Choose a doctor who listens to you. Make sure that he or she asks questions and truly wants to understand what you are experiencing.
  • Look for a doctor who offers convenient office locations. Some offices offer online scheduling which makes it easy to schedule appointments without squandering precious time on the phone.
  • Ask if the doctor has experience treating conditions similar or identical to yours. For example, if you suffer from allergies, ask if the doctor has treated people with similar issues before.
  • Find out whether the doctor is accepting new patients. 
  • Check references. Ask friends and relatives if they would recommend the doctor.

How Can I Find a New Family Doctor?

It is possible to find a new family physician through word of mouth or online resources. Many websites allow you to search for local family physicians based on your zip code.

You can also check with your insurance company, to select a physician. They will be able to advise you on what family doctors participate with your insurance plan, which doctors are accepting new patients, as well as the address and phone number of eligible providers.

In addition, you can use the internet to look up information about various family physicians in your area. There are several sites that list family physicians, including Healthgrades.com and US News & World Report.

The Office Has Both Doctors and Physician's Assistants-What's The Difference?

There are two main differences between having a doctor versus a PA: the level of education required, and the type of services provided. To obtain a license to practice medicine, a doctor must first graduate from medical school. He or she then completes three years of residency training, during which time he or she learns how to diagnose and treat illness. After completing their residency, doctors must pass board exams to become certified. Doctors are usually more experienced than PAs and can treat more complex cases. However, PAs are sometimes better suited for certain types of treatment.

Conversely, becoming a PA requires less education. Although students learn how to perform basic medical tasks, such as taking vital signs and administering injections. Students also learn how to communicate effectively with patients. Most programs include some form of clinical rotations, where students shadow physicians and observe surgeries.

PAs are typically employed by private practices or hospital outpatient departments. Some PAs work in group settings, such as primary care centers. Others may work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. In these settings, they work closely with physicians and other health professionals to diagnose illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, and perform simple procedures such as suturing and splinting. They can also prescribe medications. 

Often family doctors work directly with a PA, so they are able to offer more appointments and more efficient care for their patients. For example, while you may see your regular physician for a yearly physical or serious health problem if you call for a sick appointment due to a sinus infection, it is likely you will see the corresponding PA, instead of your family doctor. Simply put, both doctors and PAs are an integral part of comprehensive medical care.

I'm Healthy-Do I Still Need a Family Doctor?

Yes! Even though you may feel healthy, you still need a family doctor. Your family doctor can help monitor your overall health and make sure you're getting all the preventive screenings and vaccinations you should have. When you go to the doctor, you'll want to discuss any changes in your lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, or weight. 

Scheduling an annual physical with your family doctor is important to monitor your health and wellness. Regular visits can help detect any potential medical conditions early so that you can receive more effective treatment. If you notice anything unusual, be sure to tell your doctor right away. It could save you from developing a life-threatening condition.

Far too many people avoid the doctor until a problem has developed. Invest in your well-being today by finding a family doctor you trust. The next time you are sick, you will be glad to have a health professional on your side. You only get one body, and one life; regular medical care is one of the best ways to ensure you stay healthy so you can get the most out of your life!

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