With medicine divided into so many specialties nowadays, it may seem like the era of family medicine and the yearly doctor’s visit are long gone. Now we have the internet to diagnose us so we can just go straight to the specialist that can fix us, right? But there is still value in the annual doctor’s visit besides just the lollipop you might get on your way out the door.
The doctor’s office is no longer just the place to go when you’re sick. In fact, people who go for regular check-ups are less likely to get sick! Our bodies are like cars and primary care doctors are our own personal mechanics. Your car’s engine will run better and you’ll likely experience fewer nasty surprises if you get your oil checked regularly and the same goes for your body.
Primary care providers come in many shapes and sizes—family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, etc.—and each one is a gatekeeper to your optimum health and wellbeing. Like a mechanic, during your yearly check-up, your primary care provider can:
- Make sure your parts are running as they should
- Give you tips on how to keep everything in topnotch form (i.e.; diet, exercise)
- Fix small problems (i.e.; prescribe medicine if you are sick), or
- Refer you to a specialist if you need a more thorough check up
Another benefit to seeing your primary care doctor every year is that they can help you keep track of your health over time. As your “healthcare manager,” they can coordinate different aspects of your care to make sure you are getting the best treatment possible. You’re not in this alone and your primary care provider can be a great ally.
To find a primary care doctor, first figure out the reason you’re making an appointment. (Remember, it doesn’t have to be because you feel sick!) Once you know why you’re going to the doctor, you can figure out how to find the best primary care provider for you—and it’s not one size fits all! Visit swedish.org/physicians or call 1-800-833-8879 to speak to a referral coordinator. You can also visit MedlinePlus or FamilyDoctor.org for tips on how to find your perfect fit. Then use this question generator to figure out what you should be asking during your appointment.
A lot of us spend time and money taking care of our cars even though we probably only spend a few hours in them every day. We spend our entire lives in our bodies so it only makes sense that we should take care of it as well as we take care of our cars. As your “personal mechanics” and your healthcare coordinators at Swedish, we want to see you well. That means seeing you when you’re sick and helping you feel better, but also seeing you when you’re not sick and making sure you stay that way! And if the promise of a lollipop is what gets you in the door, plenty of clinics still offer that perk, too.