Most often primary care is provided by a family practitioner, pediatrician, or an internist. There are also providers of health care other than physicians who render primary care services. Such providers may include nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) who collaborate with physicians concerning a patient’s health care. A personal primary care provider serves as the entry point for substantial all of the patient’s medical and health care needs – not limited by problem origin, organ system or diagnosis. Primary care physicians are advocates for the patient in coordinating the use of the entire health care system to benefit the patient. Primary care providers may refer patients to “Specialty Care or Specialists” are needed. Physicians may become board certified by completing training in a particular specialty area and passing an examination to demonstrate that he or she has the skills and experience to practice within that specialty. Board certified physicians must maintain their certification by passing periodic examinations. All providers, MD, NP and PA’s must take continuing medical education courses to remain skilled in their field.
Maximizing Your Visit to a Health Care Provider An appointment with a health care provider generally includes an examination and information on how to take care of your health. This information may include instructions on how to take medication, signs and/ or symptoms to watch for, or how to follow a specifically prescribed diet and exercise program. Often, there is a lot of information to take in. Here are some helpful hints on how to maximize your visit:
• Be prepared with information, questions and other observations. Write them down before you go so you don’t forget them.
• Take notes during your appointment if need be to help you recall the information discussed with you.
• Bring along a family member or friend to assist you with the recall of information provided. Two heads are better than one particularly if you are not feeling well.
• Make sure that you are comfortable with, and understand the providers’ advice. Good communication is an important part of quality health care.
• Don’t be intimidated by your provider. A good provider encourages your questions and welcomes your input into your care.
• If you have any doubts about the provider’s advice, don’t be afraid to get a second or even a third opinion. Ask your provider for a recommendation or talk with family or friends.
• Ask for patient eduction material or other available resources to supplement the notes taken during your appointment.