For the month of March, we’ll be zeroing in on personal health and wellness. In this week’s unit, we’ll start scheduling all the appointments, focusing in today on your primary care physician. Additionally, I’m going to take a moment to remind everyone that I’m not a medical professional—these episodes are friendly conversation and should be taken as such.
Have you ever filled out an emergency contact form and been asked for your primary care physician’s information only to be completely clueless about whose name to drop into this spot? Me too. It’s okay. But let’s talk about the role of a PCP (oh yeah, we’re going to throw around a few medical acronyms today).
A primary care physician is your baseline medical contact. They’re asked for on these forms because after one visit, they’ll have on file your medical history and your family’s medical history, any allergies, and any recent concerns or changes you’ve brought them. They’ll do regular physicals and tests for you—these have been covered for free by many insurance companies for a few years now. Think stuff like checking your blood pressure, having your heart listened to, that thing when they look in your nose and throat, and checking bloodwork for hormonal changes. Some PCPs can also do your well woman or men’s wellness exam and screen for sexually transmitted diseases, but you sometimes need to specifically ask for this (it’s not just checked because you have bloodwork done). They can give referrals to specialists if you have a concern, like to an OBGYN for fertility and pregnancy, to an oncologist for cancer, to an endocrinologist for some diabetes and hormone variances. They also help manage prescriptions for acute illness (think that time you got strep throat) or chronic illness (that anxiety medication you’ve been taking can sometimes be managed through your PCP).
So while this person plays a major role in your overall health and wellness, it’s not an official title, it’s a role. A PCP can be an MD, or medical doctor specializing in internal medicine, or family medicine if you want someone who can see the whole family. A family medicine doctor is also great if you have older children who would do well seeing the same doctor as they age into adulthood. I, personally, have almost always worked with PAs, or Physicians Assistants, as my PCPs, and I really like them because they have typically given me more time and consideration during my visits, only bringing in an MD if I needed one. OBGYNs and pediatricians can also serve as more specialized PCPS and it’s okay to list them if needed. Finally, a doctor may have the label of “Family Doctor” if they specialize in medicine ranging from pediatrics to adulthood. So if you’re looking for a new PCP, you have a broad range of specialists with some nuance. Anymore, many doctors are trained in integrative medicine and functional medicine, so you can also check for a primary care physician with these certifications or specialties if you want.
Back in the day most insurance companies just assigned you a PCP and that was that. But now, a lot give you a choice, so if you’re insured, it’s good to take a moment to call your provider and talk through what your needs are with a PCP and have someone help you find a doctor or PA within your network. If you are in between insurances, know what urgent care is nearby in case you come down with concerning symptoms, and start looking for an inexpensive insurance you can afford (we will talk about insurance a little later, but know that depending on your situation, there are some decent inexpensive options for you).
So, we’re going to see our Primary Care Physician for an annual wellness exam and screenings, as well as for prescription renewals and referrals if we need them. If it’s been longer than a year since you had an appointment, take this week to find a PCP and schedule an appointment. Be upfront with everyone and ask what you’ll be paying for out of pocket and through your copay before you have any services done, and start building a relationship with a doctor who can help keep you healthy instead of battling illness.
If you have a Primary Care Physician you LOVE, I would love to hear about them! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Instagram at Now That I’m Not Your Teacher.
Tomorrow, we’re talking about the dentist, and the rest of the week we’ll be talking through Dentist & Optometrists so your teeth and eyes don’t fall out, Therapists for mental health, Personal Appearance appointments, and financial wellness service providers.
If you’ve resonated with any episodes lately, I would love for you to share about it on Instagram or Twitter and tag the show @nowthatimnotyourteacher and finally, if you haven’t left a rating and review on your podcasting app, I would really appreciate your letting me know what about this show has been valuable by going to Apple podcasts and doing just that. In fact, you can do it while in the waiting room for your next appointment.
You can do it, I can help. I’ll be back here tomorrow with you to talk eyes and teeth!
Now That I'm Not Your Teacher by Taylor Vogel is a podcast that offers insight about the real world stuff that teachers often want to say, but either don't have time to or really shouldn't.
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