What Is Family Medicine?
Family Medicine physicians are unique amongst other specialties because they are qualified to provide comprehensive care to people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. Family medicine doctors offer care for four different branches of medicine: pediatrics, adolescent medicine, adult medicine, and geriatrics. They manage chronic issues, new symptoms that arise, help navigate the healthcare system, and coordinate care amongst specialists. One unique attribute about family medicine doctors is that they can easily become lifelong doctors for patients due to the wide scope of their care. Often, entire families will share a family medicine doctor due to their ability to care for multiple generations.
Some people see the ‘Family Medicine’ title and think that these providers are meant only for families or those with young kids. It is important to know how family medicine providers share many similarities with internal medicine doctors—and above all—are not intended for just families.
How a Family Medicine Physician Can Benefit Older Adults
Family physicians emphasize comprehensive care. This means that they take a detailed look at the whole person: physically, mentally, and even socially.
“Older adults often have multiple medical conditions and multiple specialists. This can be difficult for patients to manage on their own,” shared Matthew Bressie, MD. “As primary care doctors, we coordinate care between specialists. We can help patients get their questions and concerns addressed by the right specialists for the most efficient care possible.”
Dr. Bressie likes to recommend that his patients bring a list of their concerns to an appointment so they can develop a plan together.
“I ask patients what their goals are,” said Dr. Bressie. “Some want thorough evaluation of every problem to maximize their longevity, while others value quality of life as they age and prefer less medical interventions.”
Building a Doctor-Patient Relationship
“One of the things that I love most about caring for people is the opportunity to hear their stories,” said Suzanna Parle-Pechera, MD. “Being a primary care provider, I get to meet with people, hear what brought them to where they are now, and where they would like to be in the future. It is truly an honor to be able to develop a relationship like that with people.”
Our family medicine providers say that these relationships often improve patients’ long-term health.
“If I truly understand you and your goals, we can work together to find a path that gets you where you would like to be,” said Dr. Parle-Pechera.
Achieving Your Health Goals
“It’s important for patients and providers to develop a real partnership. Things can’t be one-sided in medicine. Patients and providers must work together on shared-decision making to determine the best course of action for the best overall health outcome,” says Mena Salib, MD.
“Part of the health care journey is staying on top of recommended screenings and tests,” says Dr. Parle-Pechera.
Family medicine providers can act as a support system that provides the ability to catch problems early. If a steady relationship is built, patients are much more likely to have potential issues addressed at routine appointments.
Is a Family Medicine Doctor Right for Me?
Because of the holistic approach family medicine providers take, they can also be an excellent choice for an older adult who is looking for a new primary care physician. Alaina Garrie, DO has specific clinical interests in creative aging, patient-centered care plans, cognitive or memory impairment/dementia, fall prevention, advanced care planning, and osteopathic manipulation. The Polyclinic’s Older Adult Medicine clinic is primed to help older adults live their healthiest lives.
“I am committed to advocating for my patients by creating personalized care plans,” said Dr. Garrie. “Knowing how to build rapport and really hearing your patients is tremendously important.”
When it Comes to Care, Relationships Matter
“You can go to any clinic to get care. Boxes will be checked off and some of our needs may be met. When you establish with a primary care provider, however, you invest in a relationship that will lead to improved health and wellness no matter what may come up along the way,” says Dr. Parle-Pechera.