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5 Reasons You Need a Primary Care Physician

Photo credit: iStock/sturti

Photo credit: iStock/sturti

Whether it’s due to a recent move or an insurance change, the reality is that plenty of us have gone without having a consistent primary care physician at some point in our lives. The problem with that (aside from being completely cringe-worthy) is that we’re cheating ourselves out of a vital medical resource. And anyone who has been without a primary care physician and found himself or herself with a minor illness knows how tricky it can be to receive prompt care in a pinch.

So, in order to nix this bad habit for good, we chatted with Allison Ferris, MD, an internist at Drexel Medicine, who gave us five reasons why having a primary care physician pays off in the long run. 

1. You’ll have a medical advocate. Diagnosing an illness can require plenty of tests and checkups. Dr. Ferris notes that a primary care doctor will work as your advocate, “ensuring you get not only the right health maintenance screenings but also making sure you see the best specialists.”

2. They see the big picture. “Primary care is meant to be the starting point for care — we address issues and send you to other medical providers as needed,” explains Dr. Ferris. Primary care doctors are trained to handle a variety of chronic medical problems ranging from diabetes to depression, as well as acute problems (think: an injury or new symptom).

3. You’ll have access to preventative care. Yes, even healthy folks need to regularly see a physician. Though, Dr. Ferris says plenty of people avoid seeing a physician out of fear something will be wrong. She calls this “the ostrich approach,” meaning, “if you bury your head in the sand, you won’t know anything is wrong.” Primary care physicians want to keep you healthy, and should a medical problem arise, they’re equipped to manage it.

4. You’ll establish a rapport. It’s essential to see a physician who knows you and your health history. Plus, according to Dr. Ferris, this relationship can pay off down the line. She explains, “[Patients] become ‘part of the family,’ so the whole office staff works to your benefit!  My staff will bend over backwards for my patients — they worry so much about everyone, even calling me at night to find out if a patient who called early in the day was okay or if I sent him/her to the ER. It’s a team working for each patient!”

5. You might not even need a specialist. While there are certainly cases when a specialist is warranted, Dr. Ferris says primary care physicians can tackle a variety of assessments and ailments, including “wellness exams, vaccines, GYN exams, minor office procedures such as draining abscesses or injecting some joints and more.” She continues, “I always tell my patients to call me first — I will send you to a specialist if I think they can do something for you that I cannot.”

Next steps: Ready to finally find a primary care physician? Good. Dr. Ferris explains how to do it:

  • Find a primary care physician who is Board Certified in their field. (You can look it up online at the different accrediting agencies.)
  • Find someone who is easy for you to get to. Sometimes it is nice to have someone near your work (since you are often there during normal business hours), or it may be more convenient to have a doctor near home.
  • Get some reviews, either from friends, family, colleagues, other doctors or from online sites (keeping in mind that what is true for one person online may not be true for you, though).
  • Finally, after you’ve met the doctor for your first visit, decide if you felt a good connection. If you didn’t, consider looking for another physician, or you can try going back for a second visit. Sometimes the second impression is better than the first. In the end, you want to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and that you trust.This will make for the best doctor-patient relationship.

For more information about finding a primary care physician at Drexel Medicine, click here.