It’s common for women to form a trusted bond with their OB-GYN. Whether they’ve aided in hormonal issues, exams, family planning or even pregnancy through delivery, these can all be very personal experiences. Having someone who is familiar with your history and your preferences can be very reassuring as a patient and it’s understandable that a woman may feel most comfortable seeing her OB-GYN for other health concerns. This poses the question: Can my OB-GYN be my PCP? While your gynecologist may be qualified to address a wider variety of conditions, there are also important reasons to consider establishing a relationship with a primary care physician (PCP). Here’s what you need to know in order to make an informed decision.
Much to our benefit, every medical professional has a trained area of expertise. Each of them have dedicated years to becoming educated and skilled in their chosen area of study to deliver the best care possible. Keeping up-to-date on the latest diagnoses and advancements in treatment is an ongoing responsibility for doctors, in addition to the day-to-day care of their patients. Seeing the right professional for a specific medical issue is of benefit to both the patient and the health care provider.
Think of a primary care physician as a home base for your general health care needs. They are trained to recognize a much broader scope of conditions and are going to be the best resource for tending to general medical needs such as the flu, high blood pressure or a minor infection. Along with the help of their support team, they are equipped to monitor your overall health and keep track of your medical records. PCP’s are qualified to order or perform a wide variety of tests that help them to evaluate a patient’s condition and are connected to a network of specialists for concerns outside their level of expertise.
As experts in the female reproductive system, your gynecologist is going to be most familiar with conditions, symptoms and treatments relating to women’s health issues. However, it’s likely they may want to collaborate with other professionals to ensure thorough evaluation, diagnosis and effective treatment. For example, symptoms of common conditions including PMS or menopause can be magnified or sometimes mistaken for underlying issues like depression that may require the help of other specialists, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. In general, there is a broad range of conditions and illnesses that can have similar or subtle symptoms – even more so as we age. Therefore, it is extremely important to be under the care of a health care professional who is trained to detect these early on and help ensure patients are receiving the proper care.
As a patient, it is important to have reasonable expectations of what your OB-GYN can do for you. If you are considering seeing your OB-GYN as your primary care provider, discuss this with them to inquire whether they are comfortable in serving that role. If they choose not to serve as your primary care doctor understand that whatever their reason, this decision has been made in the best interest of their patients. If your concern is finding a PCP that suits you, your OB-GYN can likely provide a fitting referral. Remember that as with any doctor-patient relationship, it can take time to build a repertoire and obtain a certain comfort level with your new health care provider.
Dr. Richter is committed to providing the highest level of care for his patients, and the staff at Compassionate Care for Women are here to help. If you have questions regarding our services or our scope of care, please call us at 702-471-0051. Should your needs require that of another medical specialist, we work with many qualified professionals that we can recommend with confidence.