The concept of “primary care” dates back to prehistoric times. Back then, a given tribe had only one medicine person who knew all the members of the tribe, their health concerns, their hopes and aspirations, family dynamics, etc. It made for great confidence in the care provided even though that care was basically limited to leeching and drilling holes in skulls.
Today, that concept still applies (minus the leeches and drills). A primary care provider is a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant that can take care of all the unique needs of any individual. They not only help with acute illnesses, they help control chronic conditions like asthma, anxiety and depression, and they advise on appropriate preventive measures like vaccines.
Studies show that people who have a primary care provider are healthier, happier with their care and have a lower cost of care. Even in the college population where students are generally young and healthy, having a primary care provider is still very important.
If you’ve ever come to Student Health, you were likely greeted with a two-page sheet that asked a multitude of health-related questions. These questions help the provider to build a foundation upon which to expand their understanding of you as a unique individual. That information makes future visits simpler and more effective. Seeing a different provider deprives the interaction of that background and the visit can be longer and less productive.
Another perk of having a primary care provider is decreased wait times. People who have a prescheduled appointment at Student Health rarely wait more than a few minutes to be seen. The urgent care, however, can have wait times up to two hours.
The next questions is: How does one go about getting one of these fancy “primary care providers?”
The process could not be simpler. Simply choose one of our outstanding and fresh-smelling providers and let our front office staff know you would like him/her for a primary care provider.
But what if you don’t know whom to pick? You could look at the staff pictures and bios on the Student Health website, or let fate decide! The next time you need to be seen in the health center for something that is not urgent, check to see who has the appointment most convenient for you and if you happen to get along with that specific provider, then choose them!
From that point on, when you have any healthcare needs, simply ask for that provider when you contact us for an appointment.
Once you have a primary care provider, don’t be surprised if flowers smell better, the sun shines brighter and the birds start to sing in your favorite musical genre.
It is a magical experience to be sure, so get yourself a primary care provider today!
Operators are standing by.
Ali Javanbakht, MD, is a board certified family physician and medical director of UCSB Student Health.
For more information and to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider, please visit the UCSB Student Health Service website at studenthealth.sa.ucsb.edu.
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