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Why everyone needs a primary care doctor

Imagine having a doctor who specializes in you. Someone who helps you make decisions that lead to a longer and healthier life. Someone who picks up on subtle changes in your body that could hint at a more serious issue. Someone who knows you and cares about you as a person.

Primary care doctors, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants do just that. We focus on caring for the whole patient over the long term. Our training and ability to develop a relationship with you make us your first line of defense against illness and disease.

As a family medicine doctor, I’ve helped guide patients to better health for more than 30 years and know firsthand the unique expertise that primary care doctors provide. Here are a few of the ways we support you:

  • Rapidly adjusting care: When you see the same doctor, we can track your illness over many weeks or months. We can monitor your treatment and quickly make adjustments. A better, faster diagnosis and appropriate care mean you spend less time being sick.
  • Catching diseases early: We help ensure you get the screenings you need for your age and family history. Because we know what’s normal for you, we’re more likely to notice changes in your physical appearance, cognition, or behavior—clues that could indicate a potential illness.
  • Building trust: When you trust your provider, you’re more likely to share important information and carefully follow instructions for care, both of which keep you healthier.
  • Managing prescriptions: It’s a primary care provider’s job to know the pharmaceuticals you’re using, to understand why you’re using them, to anticipate or identify adverse effects, to alert you to potential drug interactions, and to suggest alternative treatments.
  • Encouraging preventative care: When you come in for regular physicals, we can monitor any chronic conditions, keep you up-to-date on vaccines, provide education and information on everything from STD prevention to managing anxiety, and help you kick unhealthy habits.
  • Sending you to the right specialist: Our relationships with other providers enable you to access trusted specialists and ensure that all your doctors are coordinating to give you the best possible care.

The sooner you start working with a primary care provider, the sooner you can have the confidence that someone is looking after your overall health today—and tomorrow.

Vancouver Clinic’s family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatric providers all offer primary care relationships. Read about providers who are taking new patients online at, and call 360-882-2778 to make an appointment.


Dr. John Swan is a Vancouver Clinic family medicine physician and has been serving Vancouver patients for more than 30 years. He enjoys building long-term relationships with patients and their families.