Primary care is an essential component of staying healthy, and everyone should have a primary care doctor. When looking for a PCP, it's important to find a provider than can address all your needs. Luckily, there are different kinds of primary care available. Read on to learn about the different types of primary care, and which one you should have.
What's primary care?
If you didn't know already, primary care is the day-to-day health care services provided to you. A primary care provider, also known as a PCP, is the medical professional responsible for providing you with that care. Primary care services include the following, but aren't limited to:
- Annual physical exams
- Regular check-ups for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure
- Health education
- Health maintenance
- HIV/STI Screening
- Chronic disease management for conditions like HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and Hepatitis B and C
- Care for short-term diseases like strep throat, bronchitis, sinus infections, and STIs
- Depression screening
- Cancer screenings
- Referrals to specialists
Different types of primary care
There are several types of primary care available to you, based on your health needs.
1. Internal medicine: Internal medicine provides primary care to adults. This means individuals over the age of 18 regardless of sex or gender.
2. Family medicine: Family medicine provides primary care to anyone and everyone. For example, if a family with a grandparent, two parents, and two children need primary care, they can all see a family medicine provider. Family medicine tends to the health needs of everyone, regardless of their age, sex, or gender.
3. Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN): Women's primary care is tailored to, well, women. Obstetrics and gynecology are two separate health fields that make up women's primary care. Obstetrics is focused on women's health during pregnancy and childbirth. It includes health services that cover:
- Postpartum care (after childbirth care)
Gynecology focuses on women's reproductive health and physical needs from puberty through adulthood. This includes providing care, screening, and treatment in the following areas:
- Fallopian tubes
- Breast/chest area
While many OBGYNs offer general services for those mentioned above, there are some that specialize in even more specific OBGYN fields, like reproductive endocrinology.
4. Pediatrics: This is primary care specifically based on health needs of infants, children, and adolescents. This includes regular checkups, vaccinations, and wellness visits.
5. Geriatrics: This is primary care for aging adults with specific health needs and complex medical issues. Geriatric care is important because as individuals grow older, their health needs evolve and need to be addressing accordingly by a medical professional trained in this area.
6. HIV primary care: Individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS have unique health needs, which should be implemented into their primary care. Not every medical practice offers HIV primary care, but some health centers like Apicha CHC do. This means your provider will not only take care of your HIV needs, but also your overall health. In addition to primary care services, HIV primary care includes medication management, testing, and care coordination.
7. LGBTQ+ primary care: Similar to HIV primary care, not all medical practices offer LGBTQ+ primary care. This kind of primary care incorporates the specific health needs of the LGBTQ+ community in both an inclusive and affirming manner. LGBTQ+ primary care can include services like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or access to PrEP.
The importance of cancer screening
Cancer screening is an important part of primary care. Early detection of cancer or pre-cancer is important to prevent adverse outcomes. Screening is specifically for:
- Breast cancer: Women aged 50 and above should undergo a mammogram evaluation every year. Women between 40 and 50 years of age and are at average cancer risk should discuss with their primary care provider if mammogram evaluation is right for them.
- Colon cancer: Adults aged 45 and above should undergo screening for colon cancer or pre-cancer lesions like polyps. There are different ways of screening, including colonoscopy.
- Cervical cancer screening: Women aged 21 and above should discuss with their primary care provider the best strategy to screen for this, including Pap smear and/or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing. Vaccination for HPV vaccination should also be discussed, which may prevent this type of cancer.
- Lung cancer: Smokers 50 years of age and above should discuss with their primary care provider whether screening for this type of cancer is right for them, which would be CT (Computed Tomography) scan of the lungs.
How Apicha CHC can help you
At Apicha CHC, we offer primary care services to all our patients. In addition, we offer HIV specialty care and have a robust Trans Health Program. You'll receive comprehensive, coordinated, ongoing medical care from our providers, all of whom are culturally competent and understand each patient's unique situations and needs. Request an appointment here or click the button below.