Choosing the right primary care provider (PCP) is important. A PCP may be a family or internal medicine physician, or a primary care physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. (And, just in case you are TTC and thinking ahead, children typically see a PCP who is a pediatrician or family medicine practitioner.)
Consider this when searching for a primary care provider (PCP)
Learning everything you can about PCPs, the different types, and how they can help you will help you better select the right one.
What is a PCP?
A primary care provider, or a PCP, is what you might consider the first line of defense in your healthcare. This is a healthcare provider you see or a regular basis for preventive care or, when you get sick, the first person you’ll visit who can either provide you with the necessary care or refer you to a specialist. A PCP may be a family or internal medicine physician, or a primary care physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. (And, just in case you are TTC and thinking ahead, children typically see a PCP who is a pediatrician or family medicine practitioner.)
Why do you want to have one?
The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” could have been written about PCPs. PCPs can help provide meaningful preventive care by seeing you on a regular basis, knowing your present health as well as your prior health history and family health, being on the lookout for signs or symptoms of illness that you might not notice, and helping you establish good habits that will benefit your health in the long term.
How can you find a PCP?
If you’re looking for a new PCP, a few things that might guide your choice include your health insurance (which may cover some providers and not others), referrals (both personal referrals from friends or family and professional referrals from current or prior providers – after all, hearing about a good healthcare provider from someone you trust can be a huge asset), and hospital access and network connections (since some providers have access to particular hospitals, and if a particular hospital is convenient for you, many hospitals have provider directories or referral services that can help you choose a PCP they work with). Each of these details is important to consider and will likely help you narrow down just who you might want for a PCP. From there, it’s helpful to call the healthcare provider’s practice or check out the practice’s website and see if they’re accepting new patients. When getting in touch with the practice, you may also want to ask about credentials, location, office hours, being in contact by phone or email, urgent care options, and how long it usually takes to get a routine appointment, as these factors might make a difference to you.
How do you know if you’ve found the right PCP?
Whether you’re looking for a new PCP or already have one, finding one that’s right for you goes well beyond just figuring out who takes your insurance. Because your PCP will be your go-to healthcare provider, you’ll want to find someone you can have a trusting, ongoing relationship with. This doesn’t mean that your PCP needs to be your bestie, but you should find someone who is compassionate and competent, and who you feel comfortable talking to about the personal details of your health. A great healthcare provider will take you and your health concerns seriously, treat you with respect, and be someone you can trust, and you don’t ever want a provider who makes you feel ignored or pressured. Having a good PCP in your life will better allow you to take an active role in your healthcare, have a say in your care options, and feel like you’re making informed decisions.