The Benefits of Having a PCP


Your doctor or primary care provider (PCP) is your partner in making sure you get the care you need. PCPs can be physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants who learn your health history, recommend screenings and care for you and your family through all stages of life. Whether you have a minor injury or you are dealing with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or osteoarthritis, your PCP will help make sure you get the care you need.

“A long-term, trusted connection with your PCP will allow the two of you to grow together, feel comfortable discussing heath issues and ensure you are getting care that is personalized to your health and your goals,” said Brian Goldwasser, MD, a board-certified internist with Penn Highlands Internal Medicine in Connellsville, Pa.

The advantages of having a primary care physician also include:
• Annual wellness visits, which are usually covered by insurance, can help you assess your current condition and avoid health emergencies in the future.
• Having someone who understands your health history and can use that information to help keep you well and to better understand how to treat you if you do become ill.
• Having a single point of contact for your medical needs.
• Access to referrals for specialty care.

How to find a PCP

With plenty of online tools and resources, finding a PCP is often not very difficult. Finding the right one, however, can require some patience. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Check with your insurance plan. Your insurance carrier usually has an online list of in-network providers accepting new patients. This will help you filter out providers who are not part of your network.

Consider what would make a good fit. Everyone has unique health needs and goals. Are you interested in a provider that focuses on women’s health? Do you have a chronic condition such as diabetes? Ask potential providers about their areas of interest.

Personal referrals. Talk to your close friends and family about who they visit. If you are new to an area, co-workers can also be a great resource.

Search online. Most hospitals enable you to search for providers by specific qualities, such as the kind of care you seek, gender of the provider, experience and location.

Check reviews. Online reviews can also offer insight into what a specific provider is like and what their patients think of them.

“During your first appointment, your PCP will ask about your previous medical history, your health and wellness goals and your overall lifestyle,” said Dr. Goldwasser. “I always recommend that new patients take the time to provide a clear picture of their health and expectations. It is our job to then use that information to help make the right health decisions for you.”

The primary care providers at Penn Highlands Healthcare include internal medicine, family medicine and pediatric practices that cover all stages of life. To find a primary care provider near you, visit