Over the course of a lifetime, your healthcare can be complex. Medical professionals with different kinds of training are best able to serve you as your needs change. Perhaps you need a specialist to treat a chronic disease, or a surgeon to repair an injury. All of these people work together to form your care team. These are highly skilled, dedicated professionals who work in a coordinated way to support and guide your healthcare needs.
Through it all, your primary care physician is the first point of contact for your care. Here’s a bit more about care teams and how they work together to support your well-being.
Who are the health professionals that make up a care team?
Everyone who participates in your health journey is part of your care team. That can include your family caregivers and supportive community members. At the clinical level, healthcare practitioners fulfill specific roles to provide comprehensive care. Depending on whether you are managing a chronic illness, receiving treatment in a hospital, or focused on preventive care, some members of your clinical care team may include:
- Primary Care Physician, the individual who oversees all of your healthcare. Your primary care physician is your first visit for any medical concerns you may have, including mental health, post-operative care, preventive care, and routine illness.
- Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, who are advanced practice providers trained in diagnosis and treatment. They may handle routine treatment and perform physical examinations. These professionals work closely with other primary care providers to oversee your care.
- Registered Nurses, who administer medications, perform routine tests, and continuously monitor patients.
- Licensed Practical Nurses, who take on routine care, such as checking blood pressure and helping with daily tasks like bathing and dressing.
- Specialists, who provide diagnosis and treatment for a specific chronic condition, such as cancer (oncologists) or heart disease (cardiologists).
- Technologists and Technicians, who do lab work, take x-rays, and perform other tests critical to your care.
- Physical Therapists, who guide rehabilitation after surgery and other treatment to help you regain mobility and strength.
- Occupational Therapists, who guide people with techniques to engage in daily activities of life and work.
- Speech Therapists, who work with people living with speech and language differences.
- Social Workers, who help people transition back into the community after a hospital stay, and help connect individuals to appropriate support inside and outside of the healthcare system.
- Behavioral Health Clinicians, such as licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, and nurse practitioners, who help people who are living with challenges to mental health.
- Patient Care Coordinators, who organize and maintain communications between care providers and act as a point of contact for patients.
All professionals who participate in your healthcare form part of your care team.
Why do I need a primary care physician?
Members of your care team may shift and change as your health needs evolve. Your primary care physician stays with you for the long-term, offering continuity of care. This individual knows your health history and over time you can develop a trusting relationship. You should feel comfortable discussing medical concerns with a professional who knows you and is committed to your wellbeing.
What are my primary care provider’s duties?
Primary care providers are your first call when you have questions about your health. They assess, diagnose, and treat conditions and help you navigate all parts of the healthcare system. Many focus on preventive care. After a primary care provider refers you to a specialist, they remain your main partner in healthcare. For most patients, it is this professional who is the most consistent part of their long-term healthcare journey.
What are the care team members’ roles in my healthcare?
A primary care team works collectively to support your health. At times, you may see a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to receive checkups, treatment, or testing. A physical therapist may take over to help you with recovery after a trauma surgeon has repaired an accidental injury. All these professionals, not just your primary care physician, work together to prepare treatment plans, monitor chronic conditions, and ensure you have access to the healthcare you need when you need it.
What are the benefits of a care team?
A primary care team means you can rely on several individuals to support your health, not just your physician. You have someone to help coordinate appointments, stay on top of test results, and offer information on preventive care and at-home strategies to improve outcomes. An appointment with a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner can often be arranged more quickly than a physician’s visit, which means you can have quicker access to quality care.
Nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant role in a care team
Two healthcare providers you may get to know well are a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant. These licensed professionals often have their own patient rosters, just like your primary care physician. They perform examinations, monitor chronic conditions, write prescriptions, and coordinate your healthcare. For more complex health concerns, they may ask another primary care provider on your team to make a further assessment.
Why choose a provider at Intermountain Healthcare?
Community is at the heart of what we do at Intermountain Healthcare. We are committed to helping people live healthier lives through coordinated, team-based care. Our primary care clinics are within reach of people throughout southern Nevada. Throughout our network, highly skilled professionals work collaboratively to offer superior healthcare. Find a clinic near you to learn how we can help.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.