The Medical Minute: Volume 1, Number 1

By: Deborah Greubel, DNP, APRN-CNP
 chief health officer

What is a medical minute?

The “Medical Minute” is an informational series produced by Mary Baldwin University for members of the MBU family. Installments will offer timely and relevant information about health and well-being from expert faculty, clinicians, staff, and graduate students. 

To keep things fresh, the minute may come in different formats — sometimes an article, other times a video production. But all Medical Minute series installments are derived from evidenced-based, up-to-date clinical best practices.

The Importance of Having a Primary Care Provider

A primary care provider (PCP) is a medical provider who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and management of common and complex medical disorders. Primary care providers can be physicians (MD or DO), nurse practitioners (NP), or physician assistants (PA). Your PCP will have a long-term relationship with you, and know the intricacies of your physical and mental health and your well-being. 

Your PCP will manage your regular visits and annual health checkups. This clinician is the best option for managing your long-term chronic conditions and your medications, and should be the hub for sub-specialty referrals. Primary care providers are the “control center” for your healthcare.  

In time your PCP will come to know the intricacies of your physical and mental health better than anyone. They’ll have an in-depth knowledge of:

  • Your current state of physical and mental health
  • Your past medical history
  • Your family medical history
  • All current and past medication use
  • Your health screenings, vaccinations, etc.

This makes your PCP the best person to help you make health-related decisions and to recommend the best health screening and disease prevention plans for you such as:

  • Nutrition and dietary counseling
  • Managing stress and mental health 
  • Keeping vaccinations up to date
  • Yearly screenings (mammograms, colonoscopies, hearing + vision checks, and so on)
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol and drug use

Your primary provider can help you make important health decisions and manage long-term health problems. They know your family and who you have delegated as surrogate decision makers. And, they make recommendations for the best medical specialists should you need one (surgeon, cardiologist, etc.). Primary care providers catch potential health problems early, before they become a bigger problem.  

To make the best of your relationship with your PCP, it’s important to pick someone you feel comfortable with and confident in. The goal is to find a provider who’s qualified, fits best with your personality, and that you feel you can open up and really talk to. 

Having trouble finding one? Talking to family, friends, colleagues, or trusted healthcare professionals are all great places to start. 

About the Author

Dr. Deborah Greubel is the chief health officer of Mary Baldwin University. She has been a licensed nurse practitioner and professor of medicine since 1998. A decorated Naval officer, she has also directed and helped found numerous medical-related programs at various U.S. universities—including MBU’s doctor of nursing practice program.