I Don't Want To Be Your Primary Care Physician ...

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By Dr. Marguerite Weston |

I Don’t Want To Be Your PCP

The differences between Functional Medicine and Primary Care

Try not to misunderstand me – primary care physicians are foundational to a thriving healthcare system. I was a primary care physician for 17 years and I loved it. I have seen entire families and walked through deaths, diagnoses, and tragedies, but also walked through births, celebrations, healings and miracles.

The relationship between a patient and their PCP is beautiful. Primary Care Physicians are adept at preventative medicine, and managing chronic diseases while also triaging and treating acute illnesses. They can inject a joint, treat a cold, remove a mole or talk you through your worse panic attack ever.

Obviously, I am biased but a good primary care physician is irreplaceable!

Instead, I Want To Partner With Your Current PCP

Primary Care Physicians represent conventional medicine which I deeply value. I represent Functional Medicine which I love. In my opinion, the best healthcare has a team approach with both physicians. For holistic health, we need both physicians to complete the ecosystem. 

When it comes to Functional Medicine, there are multiple ways patients find us.

The Next Step After Working With A PCP 

Functional Medicine providers approach patients’ holistically, looking for the root cause of an illness. The natural progression is a patient starting with their PCP and if their PCP expends their efforts to find a reason for specific symptoms then functional medicine is often the next step.

Perhaps you have tried to find out why you are having IBS suddenly. You may be feeling tired, but your PCP states your labs are normal and asks about depression, but you don’t feel depressed. It may be the end of the road if the tests don’t provide numbers that warrant a diagnosis.

Functional Medicine physicians have the additional resources to dig deeper into each symptom. 

When A PCP’s Expertise Is Exhausted

You have a great relationship with your physician. You’ve known them for years and they’ve helped you out when you needed it most. However, as natural aging has started to set in, you may have asked them to check your hormones – and it is not that they don’t want to, but primary care physicians cannot know everything.

Functional Medicine Physician Discussing Lab Results

As A PCP – I’ve Experienced It; As A Functional Med Expert – I’ve Helped Fix It

PCPs cannot check labs we do not know how to interpret. You could be in your 40s and your hormones feel as though you are in your teens. Add weight gain, low libido and low energy into the mix and you could be in perimenopause. 

Maybe you have gone through menopause but now you have pain while having sex and you are worried about bone health and heart health. Perhaps you feel forgetful and have daily brain fog. And no – it is not normal (it may be common but not normal!) for young women to be miserable every month with cramping, breast pain and heavy bleeding. These are all circumstances that may fall out of the jurisdiction of even the most experienced PCP. 

Functional Medicine physicians have the specialized scope of expertise and relevant treatment options to properly address each symptom. 

If You Are More Proactive About Your Health 

Patients who are VERY prevention-minded also thrive with the addition of a functional medicine provider. You may want to know if there are things you can do now to help your future risk of illness. Perhaps you have discovered that you are predisposed to diabetes and you want to fortify your defenses to ensure you feel your best as long as possible. You may be at higher risk of heart disease or cancer because of your genetics and want to proactively establish a dynamic plan to protect yourself. 

Functional Medicine physicians are able to trudge through your health history, run relevant tests and create a comprehensive lifestyle plan to help you live long – and better.

You Want To Get A Leg Up On The Competition 

Athletes who want to enhance performance, improve nutrition and decrease inflammation often seek answers from a Functional Medicine expert.  You often wonder if you are getting enough of the right nutrients. Are you eating the right things at the right time of day? Which supplements will help you focus better as you seek a higher position within the company? While all of this information is vital for your performance, a PCP simply cannot apply this level of hyper-focus on your performance and longevity

Functional Medicine physicians are trained to go beyond what you experience in a normal doctor’s visit to help you reach your life goals. 

Working Together To Improve Your Lifespan & Healthspan 

Our healthcare system needs primary care physicians to establish accurate medical history and address ailments, illnesses and bodily changes to occur with time. We also need Functional Medicine physicians to discover underlying causes of discomfort, create lifestyle plans that solve those problems and to simply feel better each day.  

In a perfect world though we are on one team – your team!

Dr. Marguerite Weston Author Bio Photo

About The Author

Dr. Marguerite Weston is a Functional Medicine physician at Donaldson Plastic Surgery. With robust experience in family practice, sports medicine and holistic wellness, she has helped patients feel their best using a variety of techniques including hormone therapy, weight management programs, injury rehabilitation, gut health optimization and more. Dr. Weston routinely consults with practicing PCPs to continue her mission of bridging the gap between Functional and conventional medicine. 

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