Finding a Primary Care Doctor
Shara Israel, MD, Internist, and Angelo Mallozzi, MD, Family Medicine, Stamford Health Medical Group
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Finding a primary care physician (PCP) doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Just like a family member, a trusting relationship with your doctor can be – and often is – a long-term relationship. Here’s some insight from two local PCPs who have 30-plus years of experience working with area patients.
What is the difference between Internal Medicine and Family Medicine?
Dr. Mallozzi: Generally, primary care physicians fall into one of two categories – Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. Family Medicine physicians can treat patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly and a wide range of conditions including some areas where you might see a specialist (i.e., women’s health). An Internal Medicine doctor, also called an Internist, typically treats adults and specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions.
Why do I need a primary care physician? Why can’t I just go to an urgent care center for this type of care?
Dr. Israel: I feel strongly that everyone should have a primary care physician to help navigate the complicated world of medicine, someone who knows their medical history, screenings they might need as they age, and so on. We also know about our patients’ personal lives and stressors that can contribute to their physical and mental health.
Of course, you can go to an urgent care center when your doctor isn’t in, but this can’t replace that personal relationship. Having an urgent care center as part of Stamford Health (Immediate Care Center in Stamford Health’s Tully Health Center) is a win-win because Stamford Health Medical Group shares the same patient medical records system. In my opinion, this is really the best way to utilize urgent care.
At what age do you stop seeing a pediatrician?
Dr. Israel: Some Internists are very comfortable treating adolescents through their college years. However, others may prefer that teens remain with their pediatricians during this time and begin with them upon their graduation from college.
How to choose a primary care physician (Family Medicine or Internal Medicine)
Dr. Mallozzi: People often select physicians based on the referral from other people – their friends, their family members, co-workers, etc. If you’re making more of a family-oriented choice, where you might want the continuity to have the same physician treat your entire family, then a Family Medicine practitioner may be right for you. However, if you’re choosing just for yourself, either can work very well. It all comes down to your personal preference and the degree of comfort and trust you feel with that particular physician. Either way, it’s a good idea to have a primary care physician both to seek care when you’re not well and to monitor your health and help keep you healthy on an ongoing basis.
Shara Israel, MD, is an Internist with Stamford Health Medical Group (SHMG) – Schuyler Avenue practice. She has been on staff at Stamford Hospital since 1995 and, in addition to her practice, leads the Stamford Health Women Physicians Group to encourage dialogue and education among female physicians. Angelo Mallozzi, MD, is a Family Medicine physician with SHMG. He has taken care of generations of area families and is also the Medical Director at Edgehill, a senior living community in Stamford.