Finding a Primary Care Doctor: A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION YOU CAN KEEP!

Finding a Primary Care Doctor: A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION YOU CAN KEEP!

Of all our 2019 resolutions about taking better care of ourselves, making an appointment with a primary care doctor may be one of the most beneficial.

Many think that they only need a doctor if they are sick, but research shows that people who have primary care doctors live longer and have less complications from illnesses when they do get sick. There are several reasons why researchers think this is true. One of those includes that seeing a primary care doctor allows early detection and treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Once you establish with a primary care doctor, you then have a physician who knows you and your unique medical, social and family history and how these factors affect your health and risk for illnesses. Because of this relationship (what we call “continuity”), your doctor is able to advise you about recommended testing and healthy habits specific to you.

Primary care doctors are also able to care for you during a sudden illness and help you manage any chronic medical conditions. They are able to treat most illnesses in the outpatient setting and can make referrals to specialist physicians if needed. Many primary care doctors have extended evening hours and also provide after hour phone or internet access for established patients who need advice regarding illnesses when the office is closed.

When choosing a primary care doctor, you should consider a few things, such as:

  • Accessibility:  Do the office location AND the office hours fit your schedule?
  • Insurance:  Does the physician accept your insurance coverage?
  • Reputation:  Ask friends and family you respect who they see as their primary care doctor.

Many people are concerned about spending money on going to the doctor. Having a primary care doctor, however, may actually save you money in the long run. They can help you prevent illnesses before they begin and treat illnesses early to prevent complications that cost more money down the road. Having a primary care physician often reduces specialist appointments that cost more money as well.

Most of these aspects of a primary care doctor are found in a patient-centered medical home.

This term is used to describe a medical practice that has received national recognition for its team approach to a patient’s health and meets measurements of higher quality care.

For these reasons and many more, be sure to make one of your New Year’s resolutions be to make an appointment with your primary care doctor! If you don’t have one, visit to find a primary care provider near you.


Tammy L. Bannister, MD

Dr. Bannister is a board-certified family medicine physician at Marshall Health and serves as the family medicine residency director and an associate professor of family & community health at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.