Written By: Elizabeth Oler, MD/OB/GYN If you’re confused, you’re not alone! Many women aren’t sure how their gynecologist or midwife fits into the scope of their medical care.
As women’s health providers, we are considered primary care providers. We are trained most thoroughly in taking care of women’s health needs, such as breast exams, pelvic exams, pap smears, and female-specific problems. And pregnancy, of course!
We can certainly help bridge you to a primary care doctor with medication refills one time for things such as blood pressure medicines, basic mental health medications (for example, SSRIs), and some lab testing. We will also talk to you during your annual visit about other conditions to screen for any red flags that might need to be communicated to your PCP or another specialist. Occasionally we will also send referrals to specialists for Women’s Health specific issues, such as bladder or bowel concerns.
However, although we act as part of your primary care team, and do a lot of preventive care, we are not trained to take care of the full breadth of medical issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, or kidney disease, and we aren’t equipped to be a point person for your other specialists like a cardiologist or nephrologist. This should ideally be done within a Patient Centered Primary Care Home, like Evergreen Family Medicine, where you have a team of doctors and staff who are trained to help coordinate and synthesize your care.
For younger women without medical problems, a gynecologist may be the only doctor you see, and that is ok! Just make sure to let us know so we can do a more thorough head-to-toe physical exam, and we can also help connect you with a PCP if you don’t have one and don’t know where to start.
The beauty of being a patient at Evergreen is that your Women’s Health provider and PCP can be in close contact with each other, working together as a team to coordinate all aspects of your preventive care. If you have questions you can always ask!