People are more concerned about their health than ever before. Thanks to multiple educational schemes, people have become aware of many health conditions and have learnt to recognise symptoms specific to these conditions. This means that they seek medical advice and treatment before their condition can worsen. There are a multitude of specialists each specialising in a particular area of medicine allowing patients to obtain disease-specific treatment. However, before patients can be referred to specialists, they will initially visit their preferred general practitioner (GP) for their check-up and any routine tests. Thus, GPs have a central role in delivering health care to the wider Australian population.

Role of GPs

GPs provide individualised treatment which is tailored to the requirements of each particular patient. GPs strive to build long-term relationships with their patients to build mutual knowledge and ensure that the patient is comfortable in their care. When GPs have a solid understanding of each patient's medical history, they are able to provide better treatment outcomes. GPs provide whole person care where they don't separate physical illnesses from other contributing factors such as psycho-social contributors and act as a physician and counselor for their patients.

GPs role in preventative health care

Preventative health care is where diseases are prevented by altering a variety of lifestyle factors. This concept is a major part of the service provided by GPs. Heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes affect thousands of Australians each year. A large proportion of these cases can be prevented through interventions guided by GPs. GPs may advise patients to change their diet or to stop using tobacco products among a range of other lifestyle changes. It is important for patients to schedule regular appointments with their GPs so that their health can be monitored. 

Why is it important to have a regular GP?

GPs are essential to support one's mental and physical health. When people feel comfortable with a GP, they should try to visit the same GP each time. This way, it is easy to establish a relationship with the GP and make it easier for the GP to monitor their patient's health. Many GPs can speak a wide variety of languages so those with language barriers can see a GP who can speak their native language to communicate their needs better. 

When looking for a GP, it is important to speak to a few and then make a decision about which one to see regularly.