A Primary Care Physician (or PCP) is often the first point of contact with the healthcare system. Plus, you can have one physician care for the entire family for years, which creates a powerful bond but also makes it easier for people to access the healthcare they need when they need it.
So, whenever you’re moving to a new area, one of the first things you need to do is find a new PCP for your family. The good news is that in an area as populated as NYC, you have lots of healthcare professionals from which to choose. The not-so-good news is that it may be difficult to find one PCP who doesn’t already have a full schedule.
Still, depending on your needs and the needs of your family, you will be able to trim down the list of available health practitioners, so it’s going to be easy to decide who’s best.
Plus, there are a few other things to consider, as you can see below:
What Is A Primary Care Physician?
According to the American Medical Association, a primary care physician is “a doctor who has completed medical school, internship, residency, and fellowships.” The job of a PCP is to see patients for routine health issues such as check-ups, treatment for common illnesses, and prevention of diseases.
For instance, a PCP can help identify and prevent some of the reasons people go to the emergency department through regular checkups. They provide preventive and routine medical care, diagnose and treat acute illnesses, manage chronic diseases, prescribe medications, order lab tests and x-rays, and provide mental health services for people of all ages.
Why Do I Need A Primary Care Physician?
Most PCPs are also known as family doctors or family medicine doctors because they are the healthcare professionals who take care of your family’s physical and mental well-being.
Plus, besides what we already mentioned, they also cover preventive care, health education, and coordination of other medical services.
In a nutshell, here are some of the things a primary care physician can do for you and your family:
- Help with managing your health by providing you with information about your condition and how to prevent it from getting worse;
- Help with finding specialists who can provide more specialized treatments for your condition;
- Help with managing your medications by providing you with information about what they do and how to take them properly;
- Provide guidance in finding resources in the community that will be helpful to you in managing your condition or recovering from an illness or injury.
How To Find The Right Primary Care Physician For Your Family
The first step in finding a primary care physician is to identify what you are looking for in a doctor.
For instance, do you want someone close to your home or work, or your primary concern is with the language barrier (if English is not your native language)? Also, there are insurance concerns since not all clinics or cabinets work with the same providers.
Once you have identified what is important to you, you should also know and understand the different types of PCPs available to you.
Know Your Type
Not all PCPs are a good fit for family care; some specialize in working with specific types of patients or have a chosen specialty. Here are the types of PCPs you’ll most likely deal with at least once in your lifetime:
If you have young children, you may also want to look for a local pediatrician. Pediatricians specialize in the health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults and can help prevent, identify and handle physical, behavioral, and developmental issues that tend to present in children.
For your kids, it’s best to find a specialist close to home. This way, you can stay up to date with your child’s health state. Luckily, in NYC, you don’t have to dig too much to find a pediatrician near you. For instance, it’s enough to search for a Brooklyn pediatrician (if you live in the area) and find a list of some of the best doctors in the world.
Internal medicine doctors (internists)
These doctors only work with adults, and their main field of work has to do with conditions that affect the internal organs. These doctors may also specialize in oncology, immunology, or infectious diseases, but in general, they provide comprehensive care.
Other healthcare practitioners that are often categorized as PCPs are OB-GYN, geriatricians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.
Ask/Search for Recommendations
Your PCP is not just your primary healthcare provider – they are also the person you talk to about any type of health condition, even the embarrassing ones. So, you want to make sure communication and trust won’t be an issue.
If you’re new in the area, ask acquaintances such as work colleagues, neighbors, or business partners for a PCP recommendation. Most will be happy to oblige, and you’ll most likely end up with a list of names and clinics.
Once you have this, do a bit of digging online and see what other people recommend and why. Also, it helps to read online reviews for each of the doctors or clinics you are considering. This way, it’s easier to trim down the list and create a top three.
Pay Them a Visit
No online reviews or recommendations can provide a full picture, so once you have your top three (or five), schedule an appointment with each of them.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to visit for regular checkups, prescriptions, and when unexpected health issues arise, so pay attention to the distance from your house, how you got there (public transportation, walking, by car, and so on), and the state of the clinic (modern equipment, friendly staff, booking system, and more).
Once you meet the PCP, pay attention to their manner of talking, the time they allotted for your visit, if they pay attention to your concerns, and so on. Also, talk about any current medications, present your medical history, and see if they ask questions and if your health presents interest to them.
A good PCP can help you and your family live a healthy life by providing medical education and preventive care. Also, they can help you deal with pre-existing health conditions and stay up to date with new developments in the field (if that’s of help to your situation). Overall, the PCP is your personal guide when it comes to healthcare and navigating the system.