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Searching for a primary care doctor when you move to a new area, are making the transition from a pediatrician, or simply don’t have a doctor may have you wondering where to start. How do you know what to look for in a doctor? What does a primary care doctor do and how can they help you?
Dr. Kimberley Guida, MD, FAAFP at Pullman Family Medicine believes that a long-term relationship with a trusted physician, one who has come to know each person's history, values, and goals is the key to excellent health care. With that in mind, it’s important to find a primary care physician that you feel comfortable with and can trust.
“Patients often find a doctor by word of mouth in their community. It can also be helpful to look at the web pages of different practices, to get a feel for their philosophy of care, and to review any professional and personal information about the providers that may be available,” says Dr. Guida.
While reading reviews and online materials can help you get an idea about the practice and provider, the best way to ensure you’ll enjoy interacting with a provider is to schedule a new patient visit and meet the provider. You’ll be able to get a feel for their approach to care, their personality, and learn more about what they can do to help you along your health journey.
Patients can also consider establishing care with an advanced practice provider (APP), such as a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant, as they too are highly trained in primary care, and they work closely with physicians.
“When searching for a primary care doctor, the main specialties to look at would be family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics,” says Dr. Guida.
- A family medicine doctor can take care of patients of all ages, babies on up to the elderly, and have a family-centered approach to health care.
- Internal medicine doctors see adult patients.
- Pediatricians see children from birth to 18 years old.
“Here at Pullman Family Medicine, all of our family medicine doctors also provide pregnancy care and deliver babies,” Dr. Guida notes. If you’re planning to start a family in the near future, it may be worthwhile to look for a physician who is experienced in obstetrics.
In general, healthy adults should plan to visit their primary care provider on an annual basis. This allows you to build a relationship with your doctor, as well as ensure you are up to date on preventative health care services such as immunizations, screenings, and testing. If you have chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may need to see your doctor on a more frequent basis for monitoring.
“Primary care doctors focus on preventing disease and managing chronic health conditions,” summarizes Dr. Guida. They take care of the whole patient, in contrast to specialists who focus only on one organ system. If a specialist consultation is needed, primary care doctors help patients determine who to see and they work to ensure coordinated care between physicians. They are the first stop for all health care needs and foster long-term relationships with patients and their families. Should you ever find yourself in need of a doctor for an illness, injury, or condition, it’s helpful to already have established care with a physician who knows and understands your health history, family history, and current medications (if any).
Pullman Regional Hospital’s Pullman Family Medicine provides routine care as well as urgent care, laboratory services, prescription refills, immunizations, LGBTQ+ services & much more. If you’re interested in meeting with Dr. Guida or another member of the talented team at Pullman Family Medicine, you can call (509) 332-3548 or email firstname.lastname@example.org