What Is a Primary Care Physician?

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A primary care physician (PCP) is a health care professional that practices general medicine, internal medicine, family medicine, or general pediatrics if the patient is a minor. 

A PCP is usually our first contact with the healthcare system. They are the doctor we trust and resort to when we start feeling discomfort or noticing symptoms, and they are in charge of regularly monitoring our health, both physical and mental.

What Are the Responsibilities of a PCP?

  • Prevention. One of the PCP’s most important responsibilities is helping us prevent disease. To do this, they use our medical history and regularly order routine tests for us.
  • Treatment. If we have or develop a condition that does not require a specialist’s care, the PCP will prescribe the treatment and monitor the condition. 
  • Detection. The PCP is responsible for deciding which symptoms are typical of a mild ailment and which ones may suggest something more serious and require a specialist’s intervention.
  • Follow Up. If you have a chronic illness, the PCP will be in charge of treating the symptoms and controlling the condition’s progression, while collaborating with a specialist in cases where it is necessary.
  • Pediatrics. A PCP specialized in general pediatric care will need to keep track of a child’s growth and development, from birth through adolescence. It is especially important that they get routine checkups and follow the vaccination schedule appropriate for their age.

What Are the Benefits of Having a PCP?

  • Continuity. The advantage of visiting the same doctor every time is that they are familiar with your medical history and have a comprehensive view of your health status. It also creates a strong doctor-patient rapport, which is essential for the patient to accept and trust the doctor’s advice.
  • Early Detection of Diseases. Following the regular checkup plan suggested by the PCP may be vital for the early detection of diseases that may devolve into complications.
  • Specialized Follow-Up. The PCP collaborates with specialists and other healthcare professionals, and they are aware of any type of care you may need.
  • Medication Management. Your PCP helps you manage and control the use of medications, especially the dosages of those sold over the counter (OTC). 
  • Behavioral Health. Your PCP not only analyzes occasional symptoms; they also keep track of your overall health, including your emotional health.
  • Saving Time. Since your PCP already knows you and has your medical history, there is no need to repeat yourself and the consultations tend to be much shorter and more efficient.

If you have not yet found a PCP, remember you can visit our primary care physicians at Salus. Contact Salus and specify that you would like to select a PCP. The Salus team will provide you with a list of the available physicians so you may select the one you prefer. In the case of minors, their PCP will be a pediatrician.

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