For most people, a long-term relationship with a primary care provider (PCP) is the foundation of an effective healthcare experience. But choosing the right one can be a big decision. 

Getting a clear picture of your overall health is important, and the right PCP will listen to your concerns and help you manage your day-to-day care needs. 

What is a primary care provider?

Think of your primary care provider as your “home base” for your general medical care. From routine tests to chronic disease care, they can provide a wide array of services.

You can count on your PCP for things like:  

  • Annual physical exams
  • Screening for conditions like obesity and high blood pressure
  • Treatment of non-emergency illnesses like earaches and insect bites
  • Vaccinations
  • Help managing chronic conditions like diabetes

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, and your provider can provide care that is suited to your specific situation.

How do I find a primary care provider near me?

First, go online or call your health insurer for a list of local PCPs in your coverage network who are accepting new patients. Choosing an “in-network” provider will likely reduce out of pocket costs and prevent surprise charges.

Another good way to find a PCP is to reach out to your network. Recommendations from friends, family members, and co-workers can be a great source of unbiased information.

Then, narrow down the options by considering your needs.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a primary care provider:

  • Location – Think about how far you are willing to travel for appointments, especially if you’re feeling under the weather. Many insurers have “find a doctor” pages on their websites that allow you to search the directory by zip code. 
  • Languages spoken – If you or a family member are not fluent in English, find out which local practices have bilingual providers and staff.
  • Gender – You want to choose a provider that you can be open with, and may be more comfortable with a provider who is male or female. 
  • Certifications – If you’re seeking out a PCP who is trained to treat a specific demographic or medical condition, check to see if they are board-certified in that area.
  • Practice size or affiliation – Some practices operate independently with a small staff, while others are affiliated with large health systems.
  • Hours and availability – Make sure that the practice’s hours and available appointment slots work with your schedule.

Your primary care provider may be a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner and may be part of a team comprising registered nurses and patient access staff who can help to support a great healthcare experience. 

It is always a good idea to speak openly with a prospective practice about your needs and make sure the partnership make sense for you and your family.

What are the different types of primary care?

When evaluating your options, one other factor to consider is the type of primary care practice. The two major categories of primary care are family medicine and internal medicine.

Family medicine practices see patients of all ages, from children to older adults, and specialize in a variety of areas including obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics. This is often the best option for families.

Internal medicine practices treat only adults and are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of internal diseases and chronic conditions.

Lifespan offers primary care services across Rhode Island

Lifespan offers primary care services for people of all ages, including

We offer practices conveniently located across the state of Rhode Island including Cranston, Warren, East Providence, and Newport County.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.