What Is A PCP?

No matter how old or healthy a person is, a primary care provider (PCP) is essential. PCPs fall under four categories: family practice, internal medicine, nurse practitioner (NP) and physician assistant (PA). This type of healthcare professional can help with a variety of health concerns. Preventative care, urgent issues such as infections or injuries, and chronic problems like diabetes all fall under the purview of a primary care provider.


1. Early detection

Many people are only in the habit of going to the doctor when sickness strikes. However, there are many benefits of seeking out an annual appointment for preventative care. At this well visit, the PCP can order any necessary screening tests. A hemoglobin A1C test to check blood sugar levels, a complete blood count (CBC), a basic metabolic panel, and thyroid testing can all be performed at this visit. Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also take place at the family medicine office. The doctor will also take a blood pressure (BP) reading and capture height and weight. If any problems are identified, lifestyle changes can sometimes be instigated before the condition progresses to the point of needing treatment.

2. Prevention matters

Another great reason to see a PCP is for preventative care. The doctor will check to ensure the patient is up to date with vaccinations and can administer any missing shots in the office if needed. PCPs can also perform breast exams for women and prostate cancer screenings for men. Colorectal cancer screening is another preventative test that a PCP can order.

3. More affordable care

Plain and simple, visiting an emergency room (ER) or urgent care can be expensive. On top of the expense, long wait times and being around other patients who are sick can make the experience not so enjoyable. By establishing care at a PCP, patients can often seek medical care in the office when an emergent issue arises. Additionally, since patients with PCPs are generally healthier, thanks to the power of prevention and early detection, less frequent visits for more serious problems are typically required.

4. Manage chronic conditions

For health problems like diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, and high BP, a primary care doctor is essential. Rather than bouncing from provider to provider, patients with chronic health problems should establish care with a single PCP for the best results. A good relationship saves time due to understanding past medical and current health issues, and mutual trust. A PCP can also ensure any blood work or tests to manage the chronic condition are performed when needed and will spend sufficient time reviewing the results with the patient.

A lifetime of good health

Every individual can benefit from establishing care with a primary care provider. Early detection of diseases, access to preventative care, lower overall costs, and proper management of chronic conditions are just a few reasons to consider scheduling an appointment with a PCP. A good relationship with a primary doctor can lead to a lifetime of good health.