You get sick and the first thing you do is consult with a doctor. However, not all doctors are the same. Each health care professional has a different educational background and expertise that make them specialists in a specific field. In most cases, you might wonder, “Which one is best for my needs? Will it be internal medicine or a family medicine doctor? Am I too young to consult with a geriatrician? Is my child too old for pediatrician care?”
While everyone may think they are all called doctors, there are about hundreds of medical specialties and subspecialties. Primary care physicians are categorized into five: family medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, ob-gyne, and pediatrics. The best doctor for your needs will depend on your medical condition, age, and health status.
Consider this: A primary care physician is someone you can trust with your health needs, someone who is available when something goes wrong, and someone you feel comfortable with. You should feel a sense of security in their capabilities to treat medical illnesses, knowing they can assure you that you will feel healthy when you are injured or sick. They are ultimately responsible for taking care of your health, and that includes ensuring you get the proper care and treatment for your needs.
With that said, it is important that when you visit a primary care clinic, you should be aware of who to look for. Here are some guidelines:
Internal Medicine Doctor
This kind of doctor, who is also called the internist, cares for those patients who are above 16 years of age. They have finished medical education and are board-certified, with their main focus on the internal organs of the adult human body. They provide a wide range of medical care, from disease prevention to chronic disease management, as well as the care of acute medical conditions.
Family medicine physicians have broad education and expertise in the fields of internal medicine, mental health, women’s health, and pediatrics, as well as in various subspecialty areas. Family doctors are responsible for providing ongoing and personalized care for all family members, from newborn to the elderly. They are trained to care for a wide range of common primary care concerns.
Family doctors also place emphasis on disease prevention and whole-person care by educating you and your family members about various ways you can do to improve your wellness and overall health. Consider family doctors as the primary medical home for your family—a one-stop-shop for high-quality, broad-spectrum medical care.
A geriatrician is responsible for elderly care and licensed to treat age-related health issues. They are educated to address the special needs of adults 65 years and over. Their specializations include medication management, mental and physical assessments related to memory issues, falls, primary care for elders, age-related disorders like urinary incontinence, osteoporosis, gait disorders, and dementia. Most of the time, they collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, neurologists, physical and speech therapists, and psychiatrists to help patients retain good quality and function in life.
Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB-GYN)
Women have specific needs, and that is where an ob-gyn comes in. An ob-gyn provides personalized care for women from puberty to pregnancy until their menopausal stage. Ob-gyn doctors are considered experts in women’s health, providing routine checks and screenings. They can also assist women with birth control, helping you choose the appropriate method for your needs.
Pediatricians care for children from birth until they are about 17 years of age. Children have unique needs and in some cases, they need to see a doctor more often than adults, their body is constantly growing and developing. Along with medical diagnosis and treatment for disease and illnesses, pediatricians also offer services for children from vaccinations, to growth monitoring, and providing information regarding child nutrition and safety.
Prevention Is Better than Cure
Regardless of what type of primary care doctor you seek, it is important to have regular check-ups to ensure that you are on top of your health. They are able to catch developing symptoms that can still be treated and provide you the care that you need for the illnesses you already have.
If you’re having trouble finding a primary care doctor in New Jersey, get in touch with us to see how we can help.