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Are you established with a primary care physician (PCP)? If not, here’s why you need this go-to health care provider in your corner.

You may think a primary care physician is only necessary if you need to see a specialist or if you’re prone to illness. But even if you’re the lucky type who rarely catches a cold or flu and has no chronic medical concerns, establishing a “health home” is important.

Even healthy people need a physician; they provide advice for preventative care and help you stay healthy and reach your goals.

Sometimes it can be intimidating to talk about your health with someone whom you don’t know. When you trust your provider, you feel comfortable asking questions, discussing concerns, or sharing information regarding your health.

Here’s how to make the most of this important health relationship:

Establish care before you need care.

New patient appointments often take time to book, whereas clinics generally give higher priority to current patients. That’s why you should establish yourself with a primary care physician before a medical concern crops up.

Schedule regular wellness visits.

All individuals should schedule an annual visit with their primary care doctor to discuss preventative care guidelines based on age and gender and any new screening recommendations from the different medical societies.

Through your regular wellness visits, your primary care provider will also be able to stay abreast of your medical history. A comprehensive record helps your PCP inform you of risk factors for conditions and determine preventative measures.

Reach out to your primary care physician when you have a health concern.

You can visit your primary care physician to seek advice and get an initial evaluation. Even if you see a specialist, your PCP’s clinic still remains your health home. You can follow up with your primary care physician for help with understanding test results, discussing symptoms, monitoring how lifestyle changes are affecting your health and keeping track of when further tests or screenings are needed.

Communicating with your primary care physician should be fast and easy. Vanderbilt, for example, has the My Health at Vanderbilt app and web portal, where patients can message their PCPs with medical questions that may not require an appointment, ask for a prescription refill, review lab results, access medical records and more. 

The Vanderbilt Health and Williamson Medical Center Primary Care Clinic in Nolensville is currently accepting new patients. Call to set up your first appointment today: 615-776-8088