QUESTION: I want to take an active part in my health care but not sure who is involved in my care. Can you identify the different players?
ANSWER: Taking an active part in your health care involves a number of things. First you must understand that your health care involves a team. Your primary doctor is part of this team and holds this team together. This team then coordinates your needs.
You need to get to know who these members are and what roll they fill. There are the Specialists. These doctors are the experts who focus on specific areas of medicine. If their type of care is needed your primary doctor will refer you to this type of doctor to treat a particular type of health problem.
Within a primary doctor’s office you will likely meet Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants and Nurses.
Nurse Practitioners have advanced training to do many of the duties of your primary physician under the supervision of the doctor. So on some of your visits to see your primary physician you could be treated by the nurse practitioner.
Physician Assistants are trained to support the work of physicians and many focus on providing valuable primary care services. They also relieve the primary doctor of many chores allowing the primary doctor to serve more patients.
Nurses are a vital part of every doctor’s office. They know the office procedures well. The nurse can instruct you on how to carry out the doctor’s orders. He or she performs many of the procedures and can explain the how, where and why to you in understandable language.
You will also come in contact with Physical Therapists (PT’s) and Social Workers. A Physical Therapist is trained to keep your body parts moving and someone you really want on your team.
Social Workers can help guide you to support services that you need. They are knowledgeable in a wide field and help guide you with problems that occur at work, with family and everyday occurrences.
Then if you find yourself in the hospital you will likely run into the Hospitalist. A hospitalist specializes in the care of patients who are in the hospital. You could compare a hospitalist to an ER doctor, a doctor who takes over for your primary doctor while you are in his domain.
Last but not least is the Pharmacist. They are experts when it comes to dispensing, explaining and helping manage your medications.
Now that is a lot of information – but each person falls into place when their particular area of expertise is needed.
Then last but really not least there is one more member on the team and that is you – the patient. All of the players look to you for information about changes to your health. Your job is to keep them informed about any problems and to ask questions when you don’t understand what is happening or instructions on what to do.
I hope that this short explanation of the makeup of your health care team helps you understand the responsibility of each member.
FRIDAY – February 22 – 10:30 am to 1:30 pm – Seminar – The Parkinson Foundation will present “Exercise and the Brain: The Parkinson Connection” – at Camarillo Community Center Auditorium, 1605 E. Burnley Street in Camarillo – call (800) 473-4631 for reservations.
TUESDAY – February 26 – 4:00 to 5:30 pm – Seminar – The Path to Positive Aging Series – “Worried About Memory Loss: What to Know, What to Do” – at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 497-0189.
WEDNESDAY – February 27 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association – Diabetes Class – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. No reservations needed.
THURSDAY – February 28 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. To make reservations call (805) 583-6363.
WEDNESDAY – March 6 – 1:00 pm – Thousand Oaks Council on Aging Monthly Meeting will host a presentation – “Nutrition and Supplements: Facts and Myths”, at Civic Arts Plaza Board Room, 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks.
FRIDAY – March 15 – 5:00 pm – St. Patrick’s Day Party – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks – Dinner – Dancing – Live Music. Tickets are $10 and on sale now at Goebel’s front desk.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail email@example.com (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.