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Me & My Doctor

primary care provider

Working in tandem for better health

Whether you’re healthy or sick, male or female,  15 years old or 100 years young, you’re in charge. Ask yourself this: are you healthy? Maybe you are today, but what about tomorrow?

Finding a physician who you like and trust, and building a partnership with him or her over time, is one of the best things you can do for your health.

“PCP” is a commonly used acronym to describe your primary health care provider. This is usually a physician, but can also be a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who works under the direction of a physician.

Why do I need a primary care physician?

People who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician (PCP) have better overall health and lower health-related expenses than those without a PCP.

Find and visit a primary care doctor you trust. They become your go-to provider in non-emergency situations, and are specifically trained and skilled in continuing care for persons with any undiagnosed sign, symptom or health concern, not limited by problem origin (biological, behavioral or social), organ system or diagnosis.

On a daily basis, a PCP provides health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling, education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illness.

When you have questions about your health, who do you ask?

The role of a PCP is to:

  1. Provide comprehensive exams and preventive care
  2. Identify and treat common, sudden and chronic medical conditions
  3. Teach healthy lifestyle choices
  4. Assess the urgency of your medical problems and direct you to the best place for that care
  5. Make referrals to medical specialists when necessary

How does having a PCP benefit you?

  • Research shows that people who have an ongoing relationship with a PCP have better overall health outcomes and lower death rates than those people without a PCP.
  • Research also shows that those with a PCP save money in the long run. One reason for that savings is the primary care doctor’s focus on prevention.
  • When you have a primary care doctor, you’re never on your own with your health care.

What if something more serious happens to me?

Primary care is usually provided in an outpatient setting; however, if you are admitted to the hospital, your PCP may assist in or direct your care, depending on the circumstances.


Internist: treats adults ages 18 and over and are the broadest category of primary care providers

Family Practitioner: sees patients of all ages, and tends to see more than one member of a family

Pediatrician: specializes in caring for newborns, children and adolescents

Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP): treats patients of all ages depending on their specialty (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, etc.)

What’s the difference?

MD (medical doctor): practice allopathic medicine, the classical form of medicine, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

DO (doctor of osteopathy): practice osteopathic medicine, which is centered on a more holistic view of medicine in which the focus is on seeing the patient as a “whole person” to reach a diagnosis, rather than treating the symptoms alone.

Primary care physician vs. medical specialist

Primary care physician: helps keep you healthy, provides a home base for all your medical needs, and is your go-to when you’re sick.

A specialist: has a deeper but narrower skill set and may serve only a short-term purpose, such as diagnosing a problem or designing a treatment regimen. Some females choose to see their OB/GYN provider for their annual check-up. Providers, such as OB/GYNs, generally focus on women’s care and don’t directly focus on disease management and screening out of the OB/GYN arena. Women can have both.

How do I find a primary care physician for myself or a family member?

Option #1: Call NurseDirect at 800-362-9900. A referral associate will assist you in selecting a PCP. If they help you arrive at a decision, they can connect you to the clinic during office hours so an appointment can be made.

What’s important to you?

  • Are the office hours or location convenient? You can choose one closer to work or home.
  • Do you tend to require frequent labs? You can find a clinic with lab and general radiology services on location.
  • Are there any language barriers? You can find a PCP who speaks your language.
  • What do you want in a doctor? You can find what you want.
  • Do you want a PCP who has similar interests as you? Every PCP lists their outside interests in their bio so you can find one you connect with.

Option #2: Find a doctor at Affinity or Ministry. Select “primary care” in the specialty drop-down menu. You can narrow down search results by location, language and gender.

Option #3: Word-of-mouth. Ask your family, friends or co-workers.


why you need a primary care provider infographic

What to consider when selecting a primary care clinician


Finding a primary care clinician who you like and trust, and building a partnership with him or her over time is one of the best things you can do for your health. My goal as a connection specialist is to be the first step in navigating that process, taking the stress and anxiety out of finding a new primary care clinician, and talking through the process and answering any questions you may have so we can get you on the road to good health.

Research shows that people who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care clinician have better overall health outcomes and save money in the long run by doing yearly preventative visits. As you begin looking for a primary care clinician, consider the following:

  • Are the office hours or location convenient?
    Some patients want to have a clinician closer to their workplace versus their home, and Affinity Health System has several convenient locations to meet your health care needs. We offer same-day appointments, extended hours during the week and also weekend hours at some of our locations.
  • What do you want in a clinician?
    I often get asked how long a particular clinician has been practicing, or what their specialty is. If you have specific needs, like treating high cholesterol, or are interested in treatments such as integrative medicine or acupuncture, keep those in mind while you search.

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Welcome to the Affinity Medical Group blog

Welcome to our blog where you’ll find information on health topics, features on our doctors and providers, and stories about patients just like you.

We developed this blog with our patients in mind and want to provide information that is relevant to you and your family. We want this blog to be a dialogue between our providers and our patients, so please give us your feedback. We want to know what topics you want to learn more about – are you wondering what options there are for managing your diabetes or what treatments there are for headaches? Let us know what you’d like to learn more about by commenting on this post. Continue Reading »

The various roles of medical home

Who do you picture when you think of visiting your primary care provider?  I’d guess most of us key in on our physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.  We refer to these professionals as primary care providers, or PCPs.  While it’s true that your PCP is the leader of your medical home care team, she or he is only one of many highly trained team members who must work seamlessly to ensure the level of personalized care that you expect and deserve.

Your Affinity Medical Home has been busy re-engineering your care team with new roles and even new types of providers who work together with you to manage your health.  One of our guiding principles is to align roles so that everyone is working at the top of their license or skill set.  We want the right people working with you at all times. Continue Reading »

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