The top 4 health benefits of having a primary care physician

A trusted family medicine doctor is important even when you aren’t sick


If you go to the doctor only when you are sick, you are missing out on countless health benefits, according to Shalaka Ghate, M.D., a family physician for Baptist Primary Care, who recently opened a new office on Marsh Landing Parkway in Jacksonville Beach.

“Studies show better health outcomes and lower incidences of serious issues, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in patients who have a consistent primary care physician,” said Ghate.

Here are Ghate’s top four reasons for developing a partnership with a primary care physician.

Prevention. A primary care doctor can help you prevent serious health conditions through regular checkups and screenings.

“Prevention is key,” said Ghate. “We can detect conditions, such as high cholesterol, hypertension or asthma, in the early stages, when intervention can often halt the progression of disease.”

Identifying risk factors. Annual wellness visits are vital to maintaining and improving your health. Your primary care physician can help you manage your risk factors, like family health history, weight gain or high stress, and make recommendations for a healthier lifestyle.

Improved mental health. “Many people don’t realize we can offer mental and behavioral evaluations and treatments,” Ghate said. “Just like with other disorders, we can be a stepping stone for patients to get the right evaluation and appropriate treatment. We help treat common issues like depression and anxiety on a regular basis.”

Quick care when you need it. When you are sick, being able to get an appointment with your primary care physician, go right into an exam room, and bypass paperwork because you’re already in the system is priceless. A doctor who understands your full health story can get you feeling better fast, while offering other benefits for years to come.

Ghate stressed the need for younger adults, who often don’t think they need primary care, to find a physician.

“We can definitely help younger adults with a lot of needs that start to emerge in their 20s and 30s, such as birth control, attention deficit disorders and sexual health,” she said. “We can also help with substance abuse issues.”

Ghate recommends being proactive.

“Your health is in your hands, so I encourage people to find a primary care doctor they trust,” she said. “Together, you and your doctor can develop a partnership to improve your overall health and well-being.”

Ghate’s new office is located at 950 Marsh Landing Parkway, Unit 105B, in Jacksonville Beach. The office accepts most major health insurance plans and can often accommodate same- or next-day appointments. To schedule a visit, call 904-376-4900 or go to