In world of medical specialties and subspecialties, the family doctor or general practitioner remains an integral part of every family’s health care team. While it has never been easier seeking care from a walk-in clinic or finding a specialist to treat your illnesses, working with a family doctor as your primary care physician like Dr. Alfred Neuhoff, a family practitioner at Aspirus Stevens Point Clinic, provides multiple benefits.
According to Dr. Neuhoff, “I feel strongly in the benefits of providing a medical home for patients so they can have a familiar face to see when sick to help them navigate the increasingly complex world of 21st century medicine.”
What does Dr. Neuhoff see as the benefits of working with a family care practitioner?
1. One physician knows your entire story. If you only seek treatment from specialists, then there is no centralized location where compiled records show your entire medical picture. Working with a family practitioner as your primary care provider allows for a centralized place to maintain records, and one doctor understands your entire health picture. This is especially important because you are not a series of parts, but an entire person. While specialists focus on your parts, your general or family practitioner can see you as a whole.
2. You build a relationship with a family doctor. If you have a “medical home” where you see the same physician and staff regularly, then you can build a relationship. Having such a relationship can increase your comfort and trust level, which is essential in any good doctor-patient relationship.
3. Preventive health care comes to the forefront. Through annual checkups, your family physician can help identify lifestyle issues that may be detrimental to your health. Family doctors are willing to work with you to make lifestyle changes that benefit your health.
4. You have someone you can call when you have questions. Since a family practitioner understands your whole picture, sometimes all a health concern may require is a quick call to the doctor’s office, where staff that knows your health needs can respond to your questions and concerns.
For the unorganized, the unprepared, and the undisciplined, medical school will prove an impassable obstacle. If you want to succeed, try to incorporate the following tips into your daily routine.
1. Stay Fit and Healthy
When not attending class, you will be studying. When not studying, you will be in class or taking exams. In order to stay focused and mentally sharp, you must take care of yourself. You will be tempted to binge on junk food as a means of quick sustenance during prolonged study sessions, but resist the urge and maintain a proper diet with regular exercise. Also, stay rested. There will be nights when sleep will seem impossible in light of all you have to do, but exhaustion will inevitably creep in, and all your studying will amount to nothing.
2. Answer Practice Questions
Notes and reading assignments are important, but so are the practice questions found in many textbooks and given to you by professors. Those questions resemble what might await you on an exam and will help identify areas for further study. Be sure to set aside time to answer practice questions.
3. Study with Peers
Medicine is not a solitary field. You will be working with teams of doctors, nurses, and other qualified individuals, so acclimate to group work early by forming study groups in medical school. One useful group strategy is to take a practice test as a group and then compare and discuss answers, helping each other understand incorrect responses and why correct responses are in fact correct.