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Tips for Choosing a Primary Care Provider

Last updated: March 31, 2023

It’s a joy to provide care for young adults throughout their lives, and then later treat their children. I love helping my patients become healthiest versions of themselves.

Dr. Patrick Terry, Family Medicine Physician, ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh

If you’re seeking a way to manage your overall health, look no further than your primary care provider (PCP). Maintaining a relationship with your PCP — and staying on top of annual wellness visits and screenings — can help you track your health and catch conditions before they become serious.

If you’re looking for a new PCP, Patient Access Week, which takes place the first week in April, offers a good time to start your search.

Here are some tips for finding the right PCP fit for you.

Consider critical questions

Explore key topics when choosing a medical professional. Knowing and addressing what matters most to you in a PCP from the get-go will make a difference in your patient experience. You want to feel safe and comfortable around your health care team as well as confident in their care. Consider researching these questions.

  • What are the provider’s qualifications and experience? Verify the provider has a license, board certification, and/or education in their specialty.
  • What’s the provider’s communication style and approach in treating patients? Ensure the provider listens and addresses your concerns.
  • What is the provider’s availability, and how do they handle emergencies?
  • What is the provider’s approach to preventive medicine? A holistic approach that emphasizes preventive care will help in maintaining lifelong health.

The provider’s profile in the ThedaCare Provider Directory can provide insight into many of these topics. If you have any remaining questions, you can address them directly with the provider.

Inquire about fees and insurance coverage too. You’ll want to understand the cost implications of treatment upfront.

Know the differences between types of PCPs

PCPs have varying levels of education and training, which affects their role in patient care. Understanding the differences between the roles and their specialties can help you choose the right provider for your health care needs.

  • MDs and DOs are both licensed physicians. MDs focus on “allopathic” medicine, meaning they treat and diagnose conditions using conventional medical tools like X-rays, prescription drugs, and surgery. DOs use those conventional tools as well but also emphasize holistic health and prevention. Both are qualified to diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medication, and perform surgeries.
  • Physician assistants (PA) and advanced practice nurse practitioners (APNP) are health care professionals who can perform many of the same tasks as physicians. PAs and APNPs have a master’s degree or higher and are qualified to diagnose and treat illnesses, order medical tests, and prescribe medication.

Family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics are all primary care specialties. Family medicine providers work with people of all ages, while internists focus on adult medicine. Pediatricians specialize in the care of children from infancy through adolescence. Other primary care specialties include obstetrics and gynecology, geriatric, and psychiatry.

Search using the right tool

The ThedaCare Provider Directory offers a great place to start your search for a PCP. The tool allows you to search using many criteria and filters. Most profiles include a bio, and some include a video as well. You can directly schedule with most providers through the directory.

“I hope patients can see on my webpage the passion I have for treating multigenerational families,” says Dr. Patrick Terry, a family medicine physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh. “It’s a joy to provide care for young adults throughout their lives, and then later treat their children. I love helping my patients become healthiest versions of themselves.”

You can also reach health care access team members at (800) 236-2236 for help finding a PCP.

“Without these professionals, it would be harder for physicians and other health care providers to get connected to the patients who need our care,” Dr. Terry says. “I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to help my patients achieve their health goals. Their success is my success.” 

Seeking a PCP or specialist?

Get started on the ThedaCare Provider Directory

Tags: DO Finding a primary care provider MD nurse practitioner physician assistant

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