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One of the simplest ways to prioritize your health and improve your longevity is regularly seeing a primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP will help manage your day-to-day medical needs, teach you how to stay healthy and care for you when you’re sick. They’ll also connect you with medical specialists if you need a more advanced level of care.

Finding the right primary care doctor for you and your family will improve your health and save you money in the long run. Studies have shown that U.S. adults who regularly see a primary care provider save 33% on healthcare costs and have 19% lower odds of dying early, compared those who see only a specialist.

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) has 15 TMH Physician Partners – Primary Care offices located throughout the Big Bend region to meet our community’s healthcare needs.

What is a Primary Care Provider?

Primary care providers are medical professionals who manage your overall health. PCPs can be doctors (MD or DO), physician assistants or nurse practitioners.

After graduating from medical school, primary care doctors must complete a postgraduate residency program in either family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics or gynecology. Some doctors will begin practicing primary care medicine immediately after residency, while others pursue further training through a fellowship program focused on a specific aspect of medicine, like obstetrics or preventive medicine.

Your PCP will help you establish healthy practices and prevent and treat illness. They are your first line of care for any medical problem that’s not an emergency. In fact, their goal is to keep you healthy and out of the emergency room altogether.

Reasons to See a Primary Care Provider

Primary care providers are trained to diagnose and treat a wide array of conditions and illnesses. They will also help you make informed decisions about your health.

Reasons to find a primary care doctor include:

1. Care tailored to you: Many patients and families see the same primary care provider for years, sometimes generations. This allows you and your doctor to build a relationship that goes beyond your patient file, creating a bond and trust. This familiarity provides your doctor in-depth insight into your unique needs, so they can provide personalized care.

2. Stay on top of your health: Your PCP will help manage your ongoing health needs so you can stay well and avoid medical emergencies. They’ll perform your annual physicals, immunizations and lab work.

3. Catch illness early: Your PCP will also perform annual screenings based on your age, sex, medical history and other risk factors. Screenings can catch conditions early, so your doctors can intervene quickly and prevent more serious illness. Your doctor may screen you for:

  • High blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers, including breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal and lung cancers
  • Developmental disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Signs of domestic violence

4. Heal illness and injuries: From rashes and respiratory illnesses (like cold, flu, COVID and RSV) to minor injuries that require bandaging or stitches, your primary care provider will treat common sicknesses and injuries your family may experience. They can provide medications, conduct tests and perform minor outpatient procedures.

5. Manage chronic conditions: If you have a chronic condition like asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or hypertension, among others, your PCP will be an important member of your healthcare team, even if you need to see or already have additional specialists.

6. Start healthy habits: Your primary care provider is your ultimate cheerleader when it comes to making lifestyle changes to improve your health. From eating healthy and learning which vitamins to take to increasing your physical activity and quitting smoking, your PCP will share support, advice and resources to help you live longer.

7.Your insurance may require it: If you have an HMO health insurance plan, you are required to select a primary care provider to maintain coverage. If you need specialized care or testing, your primary care provider will have to provide you a referral.

Choosing a Primary Care Provider

With your primary care provider playing such a vital role in your health, you’ll want to choose the right doctor for you. Consider which characteristics and experience you prefer in a provider, as well as practical considerations, like office hours and insurance.

Some questions to consider when selecting your primary care provider include:

  1. Is the doctor in my insurance network? Does the doctor accept Medicare?
  2. Is the doctor board certified? In which field?
  3. Does the doctor have admitting privileges at my preferred hospital?
  4. Does the doctor see children? How young?
  5. Is the location of the doctor’s office important to me? Do I prefer that it’s closer to my home or my work?
  6. Is there parking? What does it cost? Is the office close to a bus stop?
  7. What days/hours does the doctor see patients?
  8. When is the first available new patient appointment?
  9. How far in advance do I have to make appointments?
  10. What’s the process for urgent care? How do I reach the doctor in an emergency?
  11. Who takes care of patients after hours or when the doctor is away?

Ready to Choose Your Primary Care Provider?

With dozens of primary care providers across 15 offices and eight counties, TMH Physician Partners gives you options. Our providers care for kids, seniors and everyone in between, giving you the power to access high-quality care specific to your needs, close to home.

Explore our primary care offices and request an appointment online today.

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Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a private, not-for-profit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision of leading the community to be the healthiest in the nation.