The Primary Care Physician Your Partner for a Healthier New Year
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get healthy in 2013? If so, congratulations! The best place to start is a visit to your primary care physician (PCP, for short).
“You can surf online and buy a book, but it’s best to have someone who can take your personal medical history, examine you and tailor a plan of care that meets your needs,” says Anthony Rimicci, MD, internist. “For example, there are many ways to lose weight, but the same approach isn’t right for everyone. A PCP can safely guide a patient to a healthier lifestyle.”
Your PCP has resources available to help you make lifestyle changes you want to make, whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, learning better ways to manage stress or just eating healthier.
“We work with patients on setting realistic expectations in a less daunting way,” says Christina Malekiani, MD, FACP, internist. “Coming to a PCP gives patients some accountability. If you know you’re going to meet your doctor in a certain amount of time, it’s easier to stay on plan.”
One Doctor, Many Roles
If you’ve never had a primary care physician, a health-related New Year’s resolution is a great reason to make an appointment.
A PCP is the one doctor who knows everything about your health. When specialty care is required, a PCP will help you navigate the healthcare system referring you to the appropriate medical specialist for particular diseases and conditions. They can also help arrange appointments and schedule tests.
“A PCP knows the pulse of the medical community and how to make good referrals,” Dr. Rimicci says. “When you have a major medical crisis, you don’t want to worry about figuring out the right place to get treatment on your own.”
Medical History Matters
You’ll get the most value from a PCP appointment with some advance preparation. Write down your personal and family medical history. That information will affect your screenings and “how vigilant the doctor is with certain aspects of your health,” says Dale Matthews, MD, internist. “You might think you don’t need a colonoscopy until age 50, but because of your family medical history, your screening may need to be much earlier.”
Record any medicines you take (including any over-the-counter supplements), the dosages and how often you take them, and dates of immunizations and screening tests.
Also write down any concerns you have or issues you want to be sure and discuss with your doctor. “People often get nervous when seeing a doctor; they may freeze and forget what they wanted to ask,” Dr. Matthews says. “If you have a list of 10 things, prioritize what you want to accomplish and go over the most important ones with your doctor.”
The primary care physician is your main health advocate. Connect with one today, and get on track to a healthier New Year!