When Do You Need Primary Care?

In this day and age when every doctor seems to specialize in a narrow field, your primary care provider (PCP) is the equivalent of your utility player in baseball — able to handle a wide range of responsibilities.

At Medical Associates of North Texas in Fort Worth, our expert team of primary care providers can serve as your base of operations for getting the health care you need when you need it. Here’s what we’d like you to know about the importance of primary care.

Medical professionals who serve as primary care providers

A PCP is your main health care provider for non-emergency illnesses and injuries. There are a number of types of medical professionals who provide primary care. These include:

Family medicine practitioners

These doctors specialize in treating patients of all ages, including children and adults. It isn’t uncommon for whole families to be under the care of the same physician.

Family medicine doctors treat acute problems like colds, minor injuries, and allergic reactions; provide maintenance care, including annual physicals and routine bloodwork; and manage chronic problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Many family medicine physicians also focus on disease prevention and making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating nutritiously and exercising. In addition, they can refer you to a specialist if you need more advanced care.

One of the advantages of treating whole families is that these physicians can help you identify and manage hereditary problems like obesity and high cholesterol.

Internists

These doctors provide the same types of services as family medicine doctors, but they specialize in the care of older adolescents and adults. And also like family medicine doctors, internists can refer you to a specialist if you need more detailed care.

Nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA)

Nurse practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (RNs), which means they have additional patient care responsibilities than RNs.

Like physicians, they can examine patients, diagnose illnesses, provide treatment, and even prescribe medications. In 20 states they’re granted “full practice authority,” which means they work without a doctor’s direct supervision. In the remaining states, NPs must have a physician review and sign off on certain patient care decisions.

Physician assistants do many of the same things NPs do, including taking medical histories, performing physical exams, diagnosing illnesses, developing appropriate treatment plans, and writing prescriptions. However, they aren’t allowed to work autonomously, meaning they must be under a physician’s direct supervision.

At Medical Associates of North Texas, our staff includes members of each of these categories, giving you access to the widest possible care options.

When do you need primary care?

Primary care covers a wide variety of medical needs. You should see your PCP:

When you need preventive care

Preventive care includes everything from your annual physical exam and routine blood work to sports and work physicals to losing weight to decrease your risk of severe illnesses like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. 

Your annual physical is a great way for your doctor to track your health over time and for you to bring up any medical questions you might have or discuss any troubling symptoms you’ve noticed. Preventive care allows your doctor to catch many health conditions early enough that they don’t progress to full-blown diseases.

When you need treatment for illness and injuries

If you have a non-life threatening illness or injury, your primary care doctor should be your first stop. Such conditions include colds, flu, and sore throats; urinary tract infections; rashes and allergies; ear infections; new back or neck pain; and headaches and migraines, among many others. If your problem exceeds the doctor’s expertise, they’ll be able to refer you to a specialist for appropriate treatment.

Specialists usually provide your PCP with a copy of their treatment notes. This allows your PCP to stay in the loop for all your medical conditions, and it makes them the repository of your comprehensive health records.

When you need care for a chronic disease

Though you may see a specialist for chronic diseases such as arthritis (rheumatologist), acid reflux or other gastrointestinal disorders (gastroenterologist), or kidney disease (nephrologist), it falls to your PCP to monitor your progress and to provide ongoing follow-up care to manage your condition.

Here at Medical Associates of North Texas, we also specialize in complex disease management such as post-transplant care and stroke/TIA management, as well as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and heart conditions.

Do you need a primary care provider to manage your overall health as well as treat you for acute illnesses and injuries? Give Medical Associates of North Texas a call at 972-544-6600, or schedule an appointment online with us today. We also offer televisits.

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