Key things to consider when choosing a primary care practitioner
Walk-in clinics can be helpful when we are faced with a sudden medical need, but in the long term we all need a “medical home”. An ongoing relationship with a primary care provider brings consistency to your care and facilitates routine wellness follow-ups and visits.
Establishing your medical home is similar to deciding where to live. When we choose our home and who to share it with, we consider our safety, our lifestyle goals, our comfort and our happiness. It is an individual decision, without a universal “right choice” for everyone.
“As a physician,” says Dr. Gretchen Hodgdon, Division Manager of Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Bassett, “I want my patients to feel comfortable and safe. I want them to be able to easily make appointments when they need them. I want all of their health related needs taken care of. I therefore encourage everyone to choose a nursing home with care and consideration. It is an investment in your health. “
Here are some important points to consider when choosing a primary care practitioner and nursing home:
Choose a medical home that is easily accessible to you. Minimize how taking care of yourself conflicts with your schedule and everything else in your life.
- To consider: Is it better to find an establishment near your home or workplace? Do clinic hours match your work and personal schedules? Will a longer commute make you less likely to make important wellness visits?
Good medical care requires vulnerability. Our caregivers hear about our personal lives, know our private health, join us in our worst days and advise us on important decisions. You don’t want social discomfort to get in the way of your medical care.
- To consider: Are there any issues you feel better discussing with a male or female doctor? Do you feel more or less comfortable with the caregivers you know personally? Who are you willing to take advice from? Are there any religious, cultural or identity needs that you want your caregivers to understand?
You want easy communication between you and your caregivers. Choose a team that can provide and receive information in a way that matches your personality and preferences.
- To consider: How do you like the information to be presented? Do you like having more time to discuss your concerns or do you prefer streamlined tours? What helps you open up to talking about difficult topics?
Chronic illnesses and lifestyle choices are an important part of our care. We see specialists to address these needs directly, but a primary care provider also works as a team with your specialist so that your health needs and best choices can be considered in other ways.
- To consider: Are there any conditions or family history that you want your doctor to understand? Do you hope to have a baby someday? Would it help to see someone with a background in sports medicine? Do you have special dietary needs?
We often share our medical home with our family. How do their needs influence yours?
- To consider: Do you want to see a family doctor that you can share with your kids? Are there any advantages to visiting the same practice as your aging parents?
Always remember that doctors, advanced practice clinicians, nurses and clinic staff are professionals whose priority is your care. If you find that any of your needs above are not being well met, they can help you sort things out. After all, you are ultimately the most important member of your healthcare team.