Consider Your Options
Your Primary Care Provider
When finding the right doctor to be your primary care provider, begin by determining your age and current conditions. Most people see general or family practitioners. However, it could be best to choose a Pediatrician for your children or a gerontologist for seniors. These offices are tailored to specific age groups and have doctors who are used to treating the same type of patients an dealing with similar conditions.
Before selecting a provider, check where they obtained their degrees and where they did their residency. The residency is the most important part of a doctor’s education because it is the most intense, hands-on part of their training. They learn from different doctors and the style of treatment at this particular hospital.
Many people feel the most comfortable finding a doctor referred by their friends. You could also look online for a quick summary of their general reputation. Make sure you look into their board certifications at the ABMS website to ensure a doctor has their proper credentials.
Primary Care Provider, Urgent Care, or the ER?
Some people have difficulty determining what type of doctor to see in different situations.
Primary Care Provider: If you have a problem that does not require immediate attention, a regular illness, or a minor injury, you should see your PCP. If you need any checkup or shots, this is also the best place to go. Sometimes, in a more serious situation, you should still see one of your regular providers. For instance, if you have been diagnosed and treated by your doctor or a specialist for hip dysplasia and begin to feel severe hip pain, see this specialist before running to the emergency room. They understand your current state better than anyone else and may be the best person to refer you to a hospital if necessary.
Urgent Care: This is the best option if you need fast attention and cannot get an appointment at a regular doctor’s office (whether the office is closed or busy). Urgent Care is great for situations like a sprained ankle, strep throat, or a bladder infection. All of these issues are painful and need immediate attention, but they are not likely to cause serious damage.
Emergency Room: The ER is best for life threatening conditions that pose the threat of severe complications. Call an ambulance if you or another cannot wait for care until arriving at the hospital or cannot transport themselves/yourself. Severe bleeding, a seizure, chest pain, or a stroke are all reasons to rush to the ER.
For more details about which medical care facility to visit, click here.