Many people are confused about what’s the difference between a primary care physician and an internal medicine doctor in general. Aren’t they the same? Do you really need a primary care physician?
We talked to some of the experts here at the Comprehensive Care Group South Florida, and here’s what they say on the matter.
Who is a primary care physician?
Dr. Mario B. Pereira, an internal medicine physician, explains:
”A primary care physician is a universal doctor skilled in internal medicine in general, without a particular focus on a specific organ, system, or disease.
Your primary care physician is the first specialist you should contact in case of any kind of health concern. When this doctor evaluates your condition and runs the necessary tests, he or she will either prescribe an appropriate treatment or direct you to a specialized expert if a more in-depth consultation is needed.”
You can think of your primary care physician as your universal doctor and medical coordinator. If your health issue is a routine one (for example, a common cold or hypertension without complications), he or she will prescribe you the treatment needed right away. In more complex conditions (like a rare infection, an autoimmune disease, or a hormonal disorder), your primary care physician will reach out to a more specialized doctor (like an infectiologist, rheumatologist, or endocrinologist) to discuss the matter.
Do you really need a primary care physician?
You aren’t required to have your own primary care physician, and many people choose to look for specialists right away without consulting their physician first.
On the other hand, being in touch with a primary care physician comes with quite a few benefits.
Here’s what Dr. Abed Alhomsi, one of our internal medicine experts, says on the matter:
”Dozens of diseases can have one particular sign or symptom in common, and telling them apart requires a lot of experience.
For example, imagine a skin rash. Should you see a dermatologist, or is this rash the sign of an infection and an infectiologist would be more appropriate? Is it an autoimmune condition or maybe you’ve touched something toxic?
Don’t rely on your intuition or a quick Google search: a primary care physician is far more likely to direct you to the right doctor.”
Also, when you visit the same primary care physician for years, this doctor will become an expert in your personal medical history and every single detail of your health. He or she will be able to give you personalized recommendations on how to support your health at all times.
Having your own primary care physician is great for a lot of reasons, but we’ve saved the best one for last: this doctor can become your personal expert in preventive medicine.
As you know, disease prevention is always better than treatment, no matter how modern or effective. When you reach out to the same doctor year after year, he or she will help you make the right lifestyle changes to make sure your health will stay vibrant for decades to come!