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Millennial medicine

Why young adults need their own primary care doctor.

Article Author: Tina Smithers Peckham

Article Date:

Young adult seeing primary care doctor

When you’re sick, the obvious first course of action is to go to the doctor: They have the tests, knowledge and treatments to help you feel better. But what if you’re young and healthy? Is it truly all that necessary for young adults – such as Millennials and those of Generation Z – to see a primary care physician? The short answer is a resounding YES!

Establishing an ongoing relationship with a family doctor and scheduling those annual wellness visits is beneficial in the long run for a variety of reasons, one being the prevention of more serious disease.

“Having primary care as a young adult is more about prevention. This also helps with decreasing health costs throughout your lifetime,” said Shalaka Ghate, MD, a family physician with Baptist Primary Care.

“Your health is in your hands, so I would want young adults to use the power they have now to make changes by living a healthier lifestyle. This will prevent most of the more serious health conditions that can arise later in life. Studies show better health outcomes and lower incidences of issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in patients who have a consistent primary care physician.”

When should you get your own primary care physician?

Young adults who are on a parent’s job-based insurance plan can generally remain under that coverage until the age of 26 (if their parent allows it), at which point, they must get their own coverage.

“It’s a good idea for adults who are about to be on their own insurance to always establish with a primary care practice because we provide that consistent presence of health care,” Dr. Ghate said. “This can also help them have better health outcomes for the future because we’ll help with scheduling annual wellness visits or physicals.”

But Dr. Ghate, who has more than 18 years of experience in family medicine, said young people can actually benefit from having their own primary care doctor as early as the age of 16.

“We can definitely help younger adults with a lot of things that start to emerge at that age, such as birth control, attention deficit disorders and sexual health,” she shared. “We can also help with substance abuse issues related to alcohol and tobacco.”

The mental health aspect

One added benefit of primary care that many people don’t realize is that your physician can also assist with mental health issues.

“We can offer mental and behavioral evaluations and treatments, which can really benefit young adults,” Dr. Ghate said. “Just like with other disorders, we can be a stepping stone where patients can get the right evaluation to better determine a diagnosis and receive the most appropriate treatment option. We help treat common issues like depression and anxiety on a regular basis.”

When it’s urgent

What if you’re actually sick? More and more people are utilizing urgent care facilities and telehealth services (such as the HealthPlace On Demand app) due to their convenience. These types of services can absolutely be a good choice over a holiday or weekend when typical doctor’s offices might be closed, but Dr. Ghate said to start with your primary care physician first, whenever possible.

“Some of my patients come to me after having several urgent care visits without resolution of the main underlying issue. It might seem like a common cold, but sometimes, it takes a primary care to evaluate it and determine you actually were allergic to something,” she cautioned.

“For sick visits, it’s better to go through primary care first because we are familiar with your medical history. Most offices have slots available for urgent needs throughout the day and should be able to accommodate a visit, either with your doctor or others in the group who have access to your patient chart and know your history.”

Booking a Primary Care appointment

If you’re looking for consistent, personalized health care, the experts with Baptist Primary Care are ready to help. To find the right physician for you, call 904.202.4YOU or fill out the appointment request form.

Find a Primary Care Office

Source: JAMA Network

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