Primary care is medical care delivered with the patient and the community first in mind and is traditionally the point of ‘first contact’ for the patient when a medical illness, issue or concern arises. Primary care not only treats the patient when they are ill, but works with the patient when they are healthy to establish strong health maintenance skills by practicing disease prevention and health education.

Having a primary care provider (PCP), is a key part of living a healthy life. He or she can focus on your total health and work with other doctors to make sure you get the care you need. Although a PCP is often a doctor (MD or DO), he or she may also be a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or a Physician Assistant (PA).

Your PCP keeps your medical records, which show your history of care and tracks activities such as when you received your last flu shot, test results, and maintains a record of any medicines prescribed. That way, he or she can help you better when you’re sick. It can also help your PCP work with you to stay healthy over time.
Be sure to talk to your PCP about any problems you have when you’re sick or hurt. That way, your PCP can give you the best care. During your visit, he or she may ask you questions like:

  • When did you first feel or see signs you weren’t feeling well or were hurt?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had anything like this?

It can be hard to remember things when you don’t feel well. If you need help, have a friend or family member go with you. Taking notes on what your PCP says can also help you make sure you know exactly what he or she wants you to do to take care of yourself.