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Getting health care right

Health Equity 360: Make the One New Year’s Resolution That You Can Keep

OK, let’s face it, many of us begin each year with a list of New Year’s resolutions. I recently read that 45% of Americans make them. What do we resolve? Take a guess. Here are the top three resolutions from 2015:

  • Lose Weight
  • Get Organized
  • Spend Less, Save More

Experts on behavior say we should pick one resolution at a time and make it specific and real. So why not make one resolution that you can keep?

Schedule my preventive check up with my primary care provider.

Why is this important? Benjamin Franklin, inventor and one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States of America, said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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What Is a Primary Care Provider?

Your primary care provider (often called a PCP) is a doctor who knows how to treat common medical conditions. Often the PCP works as part of a team that includes a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. It is important to find and visit a primary care provider you trust. They are your partner in health. PCPs can be:

  • General or family practitioner (for patients of all ages)
  • Pediatrician (infants, children, adolescents)
  • Internist (adults)

All PCPs can do the following:

  • Provide preventive care and teach healthy lifestyle choices
  • Identify and treat common medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, common skin conditions, infections — to name a few)
  • Assess if you need emergency care or specialized care and direct you to the best place to receive that care, if needed

When I was in active clinical practice as a pediatrician, I cared for children and young adults from the ages of newborn to 18 years. I enjoyed my pediatric and adolescent patients. I also liked getting to know their parents and caregivers. I made sure my patients were monitored for growth and development, speech and hearing concerns, basic oral health checks and vision screening.

Many of my patients had asthma. Because I saw my patients on a regular basis, I was able to help them achieve better care for their asthma. For the kids, this meant staying out of the hospital and not missing so many school days. For the parents, it meant keeping their jobs because they were not missing work because of sick children.

If you are an adult, in addition to giving you the regular exams you need, your primary care doctor can help you with:

  • Weight management
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Quitting tobacco
  • Immunizations
  • Screenings for more serious conditions
  • Care and support when you’re feeling sick
  • Other health questions and concerns

So, go ahead, make and keep that one resolution. Schedule your PCP visit and get that preventive check. Be an active member of your health care team. Work with your doctor to make decisions about your care.

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