People often think they should only select a medical provider when they are sick, but the best time is when you are feeling well. Dr. Kristen Marshall of Renown Health explains more.
Establishing care with a provider is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure your health and wellness. We asked Kristen Marshall, MD, to outline the steps to take.
Why is it important to have a primary care provider?
It’s great to have people in your life who know you, but it’s even better having someone who knows the intricacies of your health and wellness. This is the role a primary care provider can play. The knowledge and familiarity helps personalize your care and save time that may have previously been spent explaining things like medical history.
When you have a primary care provider, it’s easier to coordinate your care all in one place. This starts with preventive care, such as cancer screenings; chronic care for conditions such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes; and acute care for symptoms like cough, stomach pain or high fever. A care provider can also help you to stay on top of your immunizations.
What’s some advice you have for establishing care with a provider?
It’s important to find the right fit for you when establishing care with a provider. Choose a person you’re comfortable with, which can mean ensuring you like their style of communication and approach to treatments.
To help your provider get to know you, bring any personal medical information you can, including:
- Prior immunizations and dates
- Results of health screenings from the past several years
- Previous abnormal test results, surgeries and medical procedures you’ve undergone
- Current medications and supplements you take, including dosages and frequency
You may get a lot of information from your care provider on your first visit. To help make sure you’ve heard and understood his or her advice, you might want to repeat back what they’ve said and make notes on important points. Some patients bring along a family member to ensure everything is understood; others may finding keeping notes in a journal the best way to remember everything.
Patients can also establish care with a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, correct? What role does the doctor play in that relationship?
Yes, both nurse practitioners (APRN) and physician assistants (PA) can see patients. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are highly educated in medicine with a minimum of a master of science degree and at least six years post-high school education. Some nurse practitioners even have doctorate degrees. Similar to doctors, both positions have a minimum number of required clinic hours and participate in continued education.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are just as qualified as doctors (MDs and DOs) to conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions and even deliver babies. Instances where you would need a doctor include specialized treatment of complicated or high risk conditions or surgery, and your APRN or PA will refer you to a doctor in those instances.
At Renown, our doctors, advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants all work hand-in-hand to manage your health with the benefit of their combined expertise. This team approach provides more flexible scheduling options to see anyone on the care team, all with the same continuity of care.
Want to search for a provider online? Visit renown.org/find/physician.