Choosing a Primary Care Physician

Patient and Family Guide

Choosing a Primary Care Physician

Need Help Selecting a Doctor?

For assistance choosing a primary care physician, contact the UW Health Welcome Center

(608) 821-4819

E-mail the Welcome Center

It is important for all UW Health patients to have a primary care physician (PCP).
Choosing the right primary care physician and building a trusting relationship will allow you to make the best decisions for your health.
Within UW Health, primary care physicians serve as the leaders of care teams which work together to provide you with the following services:
  • Promoting healthy life styles, wellness, and education about self care 
  • Screening and prevention of common medical conditions 
  • Assessing your needs, determining what type of care is needed and directing you to the most appropriate place to receive care 
  • Coordinating with other clinicians for needed specialty care
Types of Primary Care Physicians
There are three main types of Primary Care Physicians.
  • Family Medicine: care for newborns/infants, children and adults of all ages and may include obstetrics and minor surgery 
  • Pediatricians: care for newborns/infants, children, and adolescents traditionally to the age of 18, but frequently care for young adults through their college years 
  • Internal Medicine: care for adults of all ages for many different medical issues
Your Primary Care Physician Team
Your PCP is the leader of a team that will assist you with all of your health care needs.
Members of the team in addition to you and your primary care physician can include Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, nursing, radiology, lab staff, and others. The team uses a collaborative approach focused on your particular needs. It is designed to allow for timely access, improved quality of care and service, and better health care outcomes.
Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) are clinicians who go through a different training and certification process than doctors. They may be your key contact in some practices. All PAs or NPs consult with physicians as needed. In addition, some of our clinics have Resident Physicians.
During their 3 years of advanced training, Resident Physicians work on a team with a supervising board-certified faculty physician for all aspects of care. Resident Physicians may work with patients in a primary care physician role and the clinic visits occur in the same way as with the primary care physician. Resident Physicians offer personal visits along with the benefits of a team approach for patient care.
Scheduling an Appointment
Your first appointment with your primary care physician should be based on your particular needs:
  • Acute Care Visit: If you have urgent needs, please inform the clinic scheduler. Typically, the scheduler will take a message for the nurse who will return your call to review your care options with you.
  • Chronic/ongoing health needs/monitoring: If you have ongoing health care needs, we recommend that you schedule an initial visit with your new physician based on the current frequency of your physician visits 
  • Screening/prevention: The timing of needed screening and prevention care varies with age and other medical problems
Historically, things like mammograms, pap tests, immunizations, colon cancer screening, and similar preventive measures have been completed as part of an annual or physical exam.
There is great value in screening and prevention, and the frequency and timing can best be determined through a discussion with your PCP and your care team.
Contact Information for Questions
If you have questions about your health plan, benefits, coverage or forms, please contact your health plan.
For questions about your clinical care, please contact your primary care team.