Memorial Regional Health Living Well — Why you need a primary care provider
When your health care provider knows you, he or she is able to give better care. If you see the same provider year after year, he or she can spot things that are out of the ordinary for you. We are all built a little differently, so what’s normal for one person may not be normal for another.
“Results of one of my favorite studies found that if your doctor can remember your first name, your overall health is likely to be better. Once a doctor knows your health history, current health status and lifestyle habits, she or he can do a better job taking care of you,” said Dr. Elise Sullivan, family medicine physician with Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic.
Primary care is a preventive health specialty. Besides monitoring your health, primary care providers, or PCPs, order and perform health checks, including mammograms, pap smears, prostate screens, annual lab tests and vaccines to ensure your overall health is on track.
If you haven’t chosen a PCP yet and tend to go to whomever is available, make it a priority to select one and stick with him or her. You’ve got a variety to choose from at MRH, which employs 25 full time providers, with nine of those offering primary care to patients. Most providers welcome a brief “get to know” appointment for those who are in the midst of making a choice.
Choosing a provider
When choosing a primary care provider, people tend to first review the list of providers from their insurance company. Next, consider location and how easy it is to access the provider. Also, consider whether you want a female or male provider and if he or she speaks your primary language. Some MRH providers speak Spanish, including Sullivan and Maggie Schoeberl, PA-C.
“Most importantly, you want to feel a connection with your provider. If you don’t trust them or feel comfortable with them, you are less likely to share concerns about your health,” Sullivan said.
Types of PCPs
Primary care physicians can be trained in family medicine, internal medicine and general practice. For example, Dr. Gerald Myers is an internal medicine physician, as well as a cardiologist.
Pediatricians act as primary care physicians for children. Good news there — while Dr. Kristie Yarmer will be sorely missed, MRH is bringing on a new pediatrician in the fall. Board-certified physicians have passed an exam in their specialty and maintain continued education. MRH hires only board-certified physicians.
Physician assistants also provide primary care. Despite what their name might imply, PAs work independently with patients, due to their advanced training, while being overseen by physicians. Consider PAs as a step between an RN and a doctor — they hold a master’s or doctoral degree and are nationally certified.
PAs can order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions, manage overall care and counsel and educate you on disease prevention and positive health and lifestyle choices.
“It’s really important to become established with a provider, because everyone has their own baseline for health. When I know a patient’s baseline, I notice when something is different, or a condition is getting worse. I can also make recommendations based on their family health history,” Sullivan said.