General Practitioner (GP)
A general practitioner is a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat many different medical conditions. Traditionally, the general practitioner was “the family doctor” as they would see all members of the family. This is less common today as people within a family often have different preferences when choosing their general practitioner.
For many men the general practitioner will be their first port of call when they are ill or injured. This is fine as they will be able to refer you to another healthcare professional if they are unable to assist or if you require additional treatment that they are unable to provide.
You need to choose a GP that you are completely comfortable with and that you are able to talk to about your most intimate problems. This means that you need to choose a general practitioner that you are able to relate to and who explains things in a way that you understand. If your general practitioner has referred you to a medical specialist and you want to discuss the specialist’s diagnosis and recommended treatment, particularly if surgery is involved, your general practitioner should be willing to assist you and even refer you to another specialist for a second opinion.
If you are over 40 you should see your GP at least once a year for a check-up even if you are feeling perfectly healthy. This check-up should include a full cardiovascular risk assessment. In addition, based on your family history and risk factors, your GP should be advising you on age appropriate screening tests for prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.
For certain screening tests and medical problems, it is often more convenient to go directly to a healthcare professional that specialises in a particular field. Some examples are shown below. Sometimes these healthcare professionals may refer you back to your GP or to another medical specialist as they are not medical doctors.
Some examples are given below:
For an eye check-up – you can go directly to an optometrist
For foot problems – such as corns, callouses, ingrown toenails and for custom made arch supports (orthotics) you can go straight to a podiatrist
For dietary advice – you can go straight to a dietician
For psychological problems – such as emotional difficulties, relationship problems, stress, post-traumatic stress, parenting difficulties, divorce etc. you can go directly to a psychologist.
For hearing difficulties – you can go straight to an audiologist
For dental problems – you can go straight to a dentist
For vaccinations that don’t require a prescription – you can go straight to your pharmacy or nursing clinic
For over-the-counter medications – you can go to a pharmacist