I read a post that disturbed me the other day. It was discussing the value of primary care physicians (PCPs). I was stunned by some of the comments. Surprised that people’s perceptions of what a PCP does would be viewed in such a poor light.
Well, I do value the primary care physician and I’ll tell you why. I am just simply going to state some of the reasons why I feel a good primary care physician is worth his/her weight in gold, and not just for their power to wield a referral letter. I’d rather not have to be referred. And I don’t believe in exploiting the primary care physician. They are not a means to an end. They are your first line of defense in getting well and staying well.
Having a doctor that knows you well is paramount, in my opinion. It’s the dynamics of familiarity that forges this doctor-patient relationship, and makes it the unique and invaluable asset that it is.
Your primary care physician gets to know you over a period of time. Yes, even with rushed office visits. They get a sense of the person you are. They can get to know your values, your family situation, your job pressures, and maybe even your goals. These may seem like unimportant aspects in relation to your healthcare, but they can all have a profound affect on your health. Knowledge of these things may provide valuable information as they assess what is troubling you.
When you are in pain, you don’t have to feel like you need to prove yourself to them. You don’t have to feel shame in telling them you are hurting and need their help. You don’t have to be afraid they will think you’re a “drug seeker.” They know your history. I can tell you, when you are really in agony it helps to have someone treating you that knows you.
Being familiar with you helps them to know what is and isn’t normal for you. They are able to track and note the changes they observe. How about that new onset hypertension? Wouldn’t you rather they catch that hypertension before you present to the ER with a stroke? I would!
Perhaps they observed a swelling in an area of your body that you hadn’t noticed. Something that would look normal to a physician that wasn’t familiar with you, because it was too soon to be noticed as a threat. This has happened to me (unrelated to the breast cancer). It was caught early and dealt with. I have my PCP to thank for this. Other doctors never noticed it.
If you feel you don’t have a good fit with your PCP, remember, it takes time to get to know each other. As with any relationship you need to communicate honesty with one another. Give them a chance. No one starts out knowing another person on sight. Relationships are built over time.
My list was much too long for me to post. I didn’t even get to touch on their knowledge base, and I can’t write a novel here. I’d love to hear some of your positive experiences. What have you found to be of value in your primary care physician?
Chrysalis has worked as both an LPN and EMT and is a cancer survivor. She blogs at The Positive Medical Blog, where this post originally appeared.
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