may be biased, but you need a family medicine doctor. I’ve heard it all, “I’m healthy and rarely go to the doctor”, or “I see so many specialists, they can handle all of my medical needs”, or even “I never get sick, when I do I just suck it up, and if I really need help I’ll just go to urgent care”. Lend me your ear for a minute and let me try and convince you…
First off, let’s talk about how family medicine is, in my totally unbiased opinion, the BEST medical specialty. Yes, it is a specialty. Gone are the days of a “GP” or “general practitioner”. These days, a GP implies that doctor is NOT board certified. A family medicine physician does a 3 year residency after medical school, takes a bunch of tests to become board certified, and then has to take those tests for the rest of their life to maintain board certification. If your doctor is not board certified, you should ask why, or just move on to someone more qualified to care for you.
If you’ve never been cared for by a true family medicine doctor like me, you may not know what makes family doctors unique. I am trained to take care your ENTIRE family, and can care for the majority of your families health needs. When you actually have a relationship with your family doctor, that’s when your health care gets elevated to another level. Let’s look at some scenarios…
Scenario 1 – You have the flu, you hate the flu, and you feel miserable. You call your doctor (not me) to be seen. The first available appointment is in 2 days, so you take it. In 2 days, you drag yourself out of bed, drive to the office, and after an hour of waiting you finally see your doctor. “You have influenza A, but since you’ve been sick for 3 days I can’t start you on antivirals, you should have come in sooner…” If you’re a mom like me, your first thoughts are “What about my kids? What about my baby? What about my son Joey who has asthma?” Being concerned, you call your pediatrician when you get home to see if you can prevent your kids from getting sick. Your kids need to be seen… so you get in the car (still sick with the flu) and take your kids in to get them on preventative antivirals. But what about your husband too? AHHHH!
Enter your family doctor. She knows you, your kids, your husband, and knows little Joey is especially high risk with asthma. You get in for your appointment the same day (yes, it can happen!), get on antivirals right away, our family doctor prescribes preventative antivirals for your whole family, and tells you what to watch out for with Joey’s breathing, and then you go home and go to bed. That’s family medicine.
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Scenario 2 – You are healthy, and think you don’t need a primary care doctor. Great! But… you still need a physical every year, and we need to talk about those annoying preventative tests that no one likes but can save your life like screening labs, skin checks, PAP’s, mammograms. You can get that taken care of in one appointment with me, and I can help you set up your mammogram, or colonoscopy as well. And while you’re here, let’s talk about your family history, your grandpa who died of heart disease, your mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your sister who is on thyroid meds. Let’s talk about YOUR personal risks, about what you can do to decrease your risks and even your children’s risks. Let’s talk about HEALTH and STAYING healthy. I would also love to discuss diet, exercise, stress, sleep, car seat safety...
If you just go in for your “check-up” with a doctor who doesn’t really know you or your family, or even worse, if you don’t even see a doctor routinely, you miss out on all of this.
Scenario 3 – Let's talk about a hypothetical patient named Cathy. Cathy has a handful of chronic health conditions, but nothing too serious. She is on blood pressure medication, sleep medication, and her doctor is watching her sugars. One terrible day, Cathy’s life is flipped upside down when her husband suffers from a heart attack. He survives but requires a lot of therapy, doctor’s appointments, etc. Due to stress Cathy gets a UTI. She calls her doctor but can’t get in for almost a week, so she decides to go to urgent care, having to leave her husband’s bedside in the hospital to get antibiotics for an infection she has had dozens of times before. Two weeks later she develops an incredibly painful rash, and again, can’t get an appointment for at least 2 weeks (because she is told a rash is not an urgent issue and her doctor has no available appointments). After 2 weeks of pain, Cathy sees her doctor, and it turns out she has shingles, again likely brought on by stress.
Let’s rewind this scenario. Cathy routinely sees a family physician who knows her and her husband. Cathy texts her doctor from the hospital that she has another UTI. Her doctor calls her and says “Cathy, please don’t leave your husband’s side, I’ve sent in your medication. Do you have any questions about your husband? Let me touch base with the cardiologist who is caring for him and get answers since the rounding doctor has not had time to talk with you.” Two weeks later, when the rash starts, Cathy’s doctor knows her history, knows about her stress, and knows it is likely shingles. Cathy gets a virtual visit so she can stay with her husband, and gets on the right treatment. This is family medicine.
Family medicine can be a game changer for your health and the health of your family, especially if you have a doctor who knows you and has the time to care for you! If you don't currently have a primary care doctor, get one, establish a relationship, and know that if you ever get sick, you have someone who has your back! Thanks for reading, hopefully I’ve convinced you why I think family medicine is the best!
Rebecca Bub, DO