Choosing a Primary Care Physician
Our physicians are highly trained and board-certified in all areas of primary care to provide you the unique care you need at each stage of your life.
Comprehensive primary care
Choosing the right primary care physician for your everyday care is an important first step in achieving and maintaining optimum health and wellness. Our primary care physicians, regardless of their specialty, are able to:
- Provide skilled preventive care and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions
- Help you manage chronic illnesses
- Refer you to experienced and respected specialists, when needed
- Coordinate your care with other providers in both outpatient and inpatient settings
Types of primary care providers
The type of physician you choose for your primary care depends on several factors, including your age, gender, overall health and family history of disease. Northwestern Medicine offers access to board-certified primary care providers with extensive training in all areas of primary care, including:
Family medicine physicians provide comprehensive, integrated care to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. Formerly called family practice physicians or general practitioners, they are trained in all areas of medicine, including pediatrics, women’s health and internal medicine. Our board-certified family medicine physicians offer expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating complex, life-threatening diseases and conditions for the whole family.
Internal medicine physicians treat adults from age 16 through seniors, with an emphasis on internal subspecialties such as endocrinology, rheumatology and infectious diseases. Internists not only provide primary and preventive care, such as regular check-ups, but they are also trained to solve diagnostic problems and manage chronic conditions. Our board-certified internal medicine physicians will coordinate your overall medical needs, provide wellness care and refer specialists when necessary.
Many women of childbearing years and beyond choose obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) physicians for their primary care. Our board-certified OB/GYNs are trained to provide care for women’s complete healthcare needs, from annual check-ups to pregnancy and childbirth, to medical and surgical care during and after menopause. Ask your OB/GYN about serving as your primary care physician, providing screenings, preventive care and treatment through all stages of your life.
Pediatricians offer personalized, family-centered care to children, from birth through adolescence. Pediatricians are trained to provide comprehensive and coordinated care, including well-child care, routine screenings, and diagnosis of acute and chronic illnesses. Our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners stress health education and work to address your concerns as a parent to provide exceptional pediatric health and wellness care.
Considerations when choosing a primary care physician
Your relationship with your primary care physician can last for years, if not decades. It’s important to find a provider that’s a good match for both your personality and health concerns—including your current needs and any hereditary conditions that could impact you in the future.
Consider these questions when choosing a primary care provider. You may wish to discuss some of these topics at your first appointment with your potential provider.
- Are the physician’s office hours convenient?
- How easy is the scheduling process?
- Can I get an appointment on short notice when I’m sick?
- At what hospitals does the physician have privileges?
- Where did the physician go to medical school and complete a residency (and, if applicable, a fellowship)?
- Is the physician in my insurance network?
- What type of relationship does the physician have with patients?
- Does the physician listen to my concerns and questions?
- Does the physician take the time to explain tests, conditions and treatments?
- Does the physician take a proactive or conservative approach to treatment?
- How do the physician and office staff communicate? Phone? Email? Online chart portal?
- Does the physician focus on preventive care and wellness?
- Does the physician refer to board-certified specialists when necessary?