Selecting a primary care physician

By Marc Barr - Contributing columnist

A primary care physician is a critical player in your overall health. Many options are available for primary care physicians; Medical Doctor (MD), a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), a Physician Assistant (PA) or a Nurse Practitioner (NP), all are experts in primary care. These experts can handle acute illness but also serve a role in preventive medicine. Many, but not all, chronic diseases have red flags that can be caught during regular checkups. Early detection is critical as the medical professional and patient can work together to diagnose, treat, and prevent progressions of common health issues. This process might include a medication treatment plan along with lifestyle modifications or even a referral to a specialist.

Selecting a primary care physician can have a couple steps. First, find a doctor that meets your healthcare needs. There are several different types of doctors that will be identified as a primary care physician – typically Family Practice, Internal Medicine or General Practice. There are also doctors who focus on children, called Pediatricians, who will serve as the primary care physician for your child.

Family Practice – Family practice physicians treat patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. They are generalists who can treat a wide variety of conditions, and often can also treat ailments you’d normally see a specialist for, like sports injuries or some women’s health needs.

Internal Medicine – Internal medicine physicians typically treat adults and specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions.

General Practice – General Practice physicians are like family practice physicians and can treat patients of any gender or age.

Next, determine the logistics of getting to the doctor when needed. Consider the travel time, when their office is open and the availability to be seen by a medical professional the same day you call to make an appointment if needed. To see a complete list of healthcare providers in our area, please visit Under the “Resources” tab, you will find the “Quick Reference Guide” updated January 2020.

Once you have found a medical professional you believe fits all of your needs, schedule an appointment to meet with them and get a feel for their personality and ability to relate to you as a person, your lifestyle and your health.

By Marc Barr

Contributing columnist

Marc Barr, M.S., is the Meigs County Health Commissioner.

Marc Barr, M.S., is the Meigs County Health Commissioner.