Choosing a Family Doctor
By Tad Jacobs, DO, Chief Medical Officer, Avera Medical Group
"I'm healthy; why would I need a family doctor?" you may ask yourself. As family doctors, our focus in health care has always been to help you live a healthy lifestyle. More and more, however, we are trying to partner with you for your long-term health and wellness.
Partnering with a family doctor can help you and your family live healthier and age in good health. Proper health maintenance is important now more than ever. Early detection of problems can be not only preventive but also lifesaving.
Having a family doctor who can help you navigate the health care system and be your advocate can improve your health and reduce your medical bills. Because there are many places to receive care - such as urgent care, a quick clinic or traditional clinic, the emergency room, or even through a virtual visit - it's very easy to get confused about the overall direction for your health care. Without a health partner, there's no one to connect the dots between these types of visits besides you. While I'm not discouraging these types of visits, it's extremely important that you have a primary doctor who can provide guidance.
A family doctor is aware of the big picture of your health. You have a partner who is making sure you get your health maintenance and appropriate health care checkups. When you see your family doctor, you may also meet other members of the care team, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Your family doctor also can be the first person to help you navigate the health care system when you need more than basic maintenance care. If you need to see a specialist, your doctor can help make the appropriate referrals so that you get the right care.
In summary, family doctors can provide:
- Better and consistent preventive care
- Continuity of care
- A one-stop resource
- Fewer trips to the ER
One last advantage of having a family doctor is that you can take multiple family members in to see one person. The doctor gets to know you and your family, and learns about your family history in more detail, which is more important than you might realize as a predictor of your own health.
Choosing a doctor is an individual decision - and it's a smart decision. Start by finding a provider at an Avera location close to your home community.
Tad Jacobs, DO, is Chief Medical Officer for Avera Medical Group. He began his medical practice in 1982 as a rural family practice physician. He enjoyed practicing family medicine in Flandreau for 28 years before taking on an administrative role with Avera Health.
Learn more tips on how to choose a children's primary care provider.