But what, specifically, does a Primary Care Provider do for me?
Primary(adj) – “The first stage in any process, series or sequence”
Currently, most people consider their PCP as the “home plate” of their treatment and only interact with their PCP when they want to get somewhere else (i.e., see a specialist). For example, Adam W. has a known medical condition; such as Diabetes, Staph Infection, etc., and needs to see a specialist for treatment (Specialist = 3rd base). This specialist (in most instances) will require Adam to first visit a Primary Care Provider. The PCP is responsible for initially evaluating the severity of your condition and determining whether it can be treated easily or if it is advanced enough to warrant specialist treatment and they are also responsible for ordering any Imaging (XR, MRI, etc.) and Diagnostics (Colonoscopy, etc.) that a specialist may need before they can treat your condition.
In other words, most people only visit their Primary Care Physician (home plate) with the intention of getting to 1st base (Diagnostics), 2nd base (Imaging) or 3rd base (a Specialist office) to treat a problem they are already experiencing. In reality, however, the most important time to establish and maintain a relationship with a Primary Care Provider is when you are still healthy, well before experiencing any significant medical problems.