Primary Care: Why It's Important and What You Should Know
What is a primary care provider? Is it important to have one? Stacey Blyth, MD, shares how having a primary care provider supports your well-being in this interview with WFMY News 2.
What medical specialties and types of care professionals does primary care include?
"It's a pretty good list! It's family practice, which is what I am, and then there's internal medicine, who covers just adults. Family practice does adults and kids. There's something called Med Peds, which is adults and kids again."
"Then there's pediatricians, who depending on their practice, care for children up to roughly age 18. An OB/GYN will take care of women, especially in their reproductive years as primary care doctors. Those are the main ones. And they'll be both medical doctors (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), and then of course what we call APPs or physician assistants and nurse practitioners. They'll work with us in those roles to provide primary care as well."
At what age should someone consider having a primary care provider?
"I don't think that it has age limits -- I think from birth to the grave. Many of us have been there, when we have little kids... as newbies with little babies you just need all that hand holding. Then as we get into the teen years, with the pandemic, we've all watched how much kids and teenagers have really suffered. So having that ongoing relationship with the primary care doctor that's another trusted adult in their milieu is going to be very helpful to get them through some of these trying times."
"Then young adults, even if they feel like they don't need us, they'll be young and healthy forever -- and goodness knows, I hope that's true for as long as possible! But we all know curveballs come in life, and so to have that established relationship if something difficult happens anywhere in your young adult life is still really helpful to answer questions."
"Then, of course as we get older and start moving into all the aging, we need more screening tests, and we need more blood work, and we need to keep a closer eye on things. Then, of course, more than ever you need a primary care provider. But I just think there's not an age where there isn't a benefit, because you hate to be searching for a doctor when you think something is starting to go wrong, and not have that relationship already established."
During COVID, a lot of people put off getting their preventative screenings and their annual physicals. Just how important is it that we get back on track with that?
"It's incredibly important. I'm sad to say I have seen that as people have come back and kind of gotten back into the medical world, we are seeing more breast cancers and more colon cancers and things that just got pushed off a little bit."
"I really encourage people to get back in, let's make sure everything's good. Mammograms of course, find breast cancer early. Colonoscopies-- not only can they find colon cancer early, they can actually prevent colon cancer. So they're as important as anything, even though I know that's one of the things people are most worried about. If we get in there and we take out that polyp, you're not getting cancer next year -- that's a beautiful thing."
Primary Care at Cone Health
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About the Provider
Stacey Blyth, MD, is a family medicine provider at LeBauer Primary Care in High Point.