These Healthcare Professionals Should Be In Your Starting Lineup
Establishing a relationship with a Primary Care Provider (PCP) you trust is similar to recruiting a Quarterback for your team. Your PCP is the medical professional that helps you to create the playbook for your overall healthcare. Your PCP should be the healthcare provider that examines you yearly and is usually the first member of the team to see abnormalities and bring in additional care staff as needed. In this week's episode of Cure The Culture, we had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Jubril Oyeyemi, Founder of the Cherry Hill Free Clinic, about the role of Primary Care Physicians.
In addition to your Primary Care Provider (PCP), we wanted to share the medical team that will create your starting lineup. These are the medical professionals whose mission should be to keep you "living your best life." Going to the doctor doesn't have to be scary, "just like any long-term relationship, trust is built over time." To Cure The Culture, we have to banish the idea that the medical community isn't here to support black health. Cure The Culture was created to introduce you to medical professionals who unapologetically serve underrepresented groups.
Your relationship with your PCP is just like any other friendship that you're building. There's always this professionalism that providers and patients have with each other, and that's there to protect your opinion and your perception; however, finding a doctor who is culturally sensitive can minimize biases and improve overall care.
As the Quarterback of your healthcare team, your PCP usually has the resources to recruit your starting lineup, which consists of a Mental Health Professional, Dentist, Gynecologist or Urologist. Here is a quick overview of what each of these specialists does and how often you should be checking in with them:
Mental Health Expert
Every major news outlet and publication has been covering the mental health crisis in America. When it comes to hiring a Mental Health Expert, your primary care physician is often your first line of defense. Think about the Mental Health Expert as a punter: A healthcare professional who specializes in making sure that the drama of everyday life doesn't gain momentum and gives you the coaching and mental equipment you need to cope successfully with the big and small issues in life.
Depending on your symptoms, your Primary Care Physician may refer you to a therapist or a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical professional who diagnoses and treats mental health diagnoses that may require medication. A therapist is a licensed professional who specializes in psychotherapy and often holds either an LSW, LCSW, LPC, LMFT, PhD, or PsyD. More specifically a psychologist is someone that holds a Ph.D. or PsyD and may or may not specialize in psychotherapy. It is important for you as the patient to decide which licensure and specializations meet your treatment needs. Ideally all of these professionals will take a treatment team approach with each other to help patients achieve their therapeutic goals. When psychotropic medication is supplemented by a strong psychotherapeutic relationship, positive treatment outcomes are most likely to be accomplished.
In our interview with Dr. Oyeyemi, he identified that most of his patient's medical issues could be pinpointed to a major life event. It is usually life's rough patches that cause us to neglect our health or, as in the case of job loss, be unable to access the medication and preventative treatments that we need.
The GYN should be the best friend of anyone with a vagina, cervix or breast tissue. They can provide sexual health and cancer screenings. For people with vaginas, this is a doctor that creates a safe space for our most vulnerable parts and keeps a watchful eye on illnesses and diseases that impact our reproductive organs. In the event that you are planning or become pregnant, many GYNs are also Obstetricians or can refer to one.
Up Next is the Urologist, who should be the best friend of anyone with a penis, prostate, or testicles. Urologists specialize in issues pertaining to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. The Urologist identifies issues ranging from prostate cancer to erectile dysfunction. This medical professional should be seen on a yearly basis after middle age to rule out and monitor urology concerns. NOTE: Older black men and transwomen who have not medically transitioned should be sure to see a urologist yearly - as we have some of the highest rates of prostate cancer within our communities.
Last but certainly not least is your Dentist. Dentist dental exams are recommended once a year, with routine cleanings conducted every six months. Think you can skip your yearly dental cleanings? Think again; your Dentist is usually the first one to recognize oral cancers and infections that may impact other areas.
These medical professionals make up your winning team. Your PCP is at the head of the team with you, the coach, calling the plays. Other team members can be drafted and recruited as needed. Embody that empowerment as you coordinate your own care and step into each healthcare professional's office.
Do you have a question about any of these medical professionals? Want to highlight a black doctor in your community? Send us an email or submit your questions to the show.