Let’s hope that you do not have to see a doctor for any health problems for a long time, if ever. But you do need health maintenance visits. Just like your car, your body needs to be checked and maintained on a regular basis for it to run in top shape.

For a regular maintenance check, you need a primary care doctor.

In addition to seeing you for conditions within his or her field, your primary care doctor can refer you to appropriate specialists when the issues you have are beyond his or her expertise. Your primary care doctor can also coordinate with specialists and make sure that the recommendations fit your personal needs. Your primary care doctor is the head coach for your total health care. He or she sees the big picture.

Your Primary Care Doctor Specializes in YOU

Often a patient comes to me for the first time with a list of specialists for his or her different physical ailments. Many times the recommendations by the specialists are perfect for a hypothetical textbook patient, but not appropriate for the particular person, given different circumstances, other treatments, and coexisting health conditions.

The specialists do not always know what the other specialists are doing. And often a primary care doctor can easily and competently treat the conditions for which this patient spends a lot of time and money seeing the separate specialists. Imagine shooting a fly with a cannonball, or several cannonballs at the same time. All one needs is a lightweight flyswatter.

After all, each specialist sees you only within his or her specialty: your guts, your heart, your skin, your eyes, or your brain. But all these body parts belong to a whole, which is you.

On the other hand, your primary care doctor specializes in you! He or she specializes in your body, your psychological health, and your emotional health, all combined.

With the increasing popularity of complementary and alternative practices, your primary care doctor may also help you separate the grain from the chaff in the dizzying array of alternative options.

Choosing Your Primary Care Doctor

There are different choices for primary care doctors in the US. For adults, there are internists (internal medicine doctors), family physicians (family doctors), and general practitioners (GPs). All these doctors must have at least eight years of college and medical school combined.

Internists and family physicians have to be trained for at least another three years after medical school. Internists see only adults. Family physicians generally can see all members of a family — “from cradle to grave.”

General practitioners usually have one year of practical training after medical school. What GPs lack in formal training, they make up for with their years of real-life medical experiences, as most of them were trained before the 1970s.

Your primary care doctor may also work with a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. If your checkup is with the nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, make sure that person works closely with the physician.

I work with a nurse practitioner at my practice. I review with her all the patients she sees. Together, we provide care to her patients, with two heads for the price of one, combining her extensive nursing knowledge and my medical training!

So how do you go about finding someone to head the task of helping you maintain your health and, if necessary, taking care of your medical needs when you become ill? Here are some places for you to start:

• Find a good primary care doctor through word of mouth from your family and friends.
• Ask nurses and other doctors you know to recommend a primary care doctor for you.
• Check your state board of medicine website to check the doctor’s credentials, their years in practice, and any possible professional disciplinary actions.
• Check with the potential doctor’s office to see if they take new patients and accept your health insurance; see how long it takes to get an appointment; and find out who takes over if he or she is away.
• Consider how your doctor speaks and explains complex medical issues with you, and see if you feel comfortable asking questions.
• Bring a summary of your medical history with you when you visit your doctor for the first time.

Whether you choose a GP, internist or family doctor, it is in your best interest to have a primary care physician who knows your medical history and understands your individual needs. Having a qualified doctor to oversee and coordinate your health care could one day save your life. Don’t miss your opportunity to discover the secrets to defusing ticking health bombs that could be lurking in your body. It is possible to live longer & better. Click here to discover what you need to do NOW to keep you & your family disease-free.

Author's Bio: 

Zen-Jay Chuang, MD, is a primary care physician and Chairman of the Whole Health Alerts advisory board. Visit www.wholehealthalerts.com/freereportstoday to find out how Dr. Zen-Jay’s biodynamic, cutting edge approach to ancient and modern medicine can help you achieve the best health of your life.

RE Health, Inc. 781-878-7114 100 Weymouth St, Bldg D, Rockland, MA 02370