When should you see a specialist?

Regular doctor visits are an important part of healthy living. But when should you see your primary care physician or see a specialist?



Primary care doctors are trained to evaluate virtually any kind of problem, says Jay Geary, M.D., a board-certified family physician who works at Premier Family Care. This can include physical ailments, emotional problems, an infectious situation or an injury-related ailment for the young and old, male and female. “The vast majority of patients’ concerns can be addressed this way: through discussion, examination and a course of action prescribed by a primary care doctor,” Geary says.

Specialists, on the other hand, are trained to have a deep knowledge of a particular body system or topic, such as the cardiovascular system, the lungs, the kidneys, arthritis, cancer or complicated sports injuries. Specialists, Geary says, are skilled in medical procedures necessary to diagnose and treat problems related to those conditions.  

Seeing a primary-care doctor initially is something you should almost always do, says Rebecca Thrun, D.O., a Warren Clinic internal medicine physician.

“You would almost always visit your PCP for an initial evaluation of a new complaint,” Thrun says. “Based on their evaluation, you may need preliminary testing and possibly referral to a specialist.”

She notes that many times insurance companies require a referral from a family physician before seeing a specialist.

Geary says that some health insurers allow patients to make specialty visits without a referral, most notably some Medicare plans. “However, a specialist also might not know if they are the best one to manage your condition, so the specialist themselves often prefer or require a referral from the primary care physician,” he says.

The primary care physician should make the initial evaluation since they know your medical history and health status, says Lance King, M.D., medical director at Warren Clinic and a Warren Clinic family medicine physician. “Then, if there are uncertainties, the PCP will offer a specialty referral and explain the rationale and talk through any questions with their patient,” he says.

Questions for patients to consider asking their PCP include:

Do you have confidence in the specialist I will see?

What further testing might be done before the visit?

What should I expect from the specialist visit?

What options might you prefer?

 

There are some differences when it comes to seeing particular specialists. Testing might be required before an appointment can be made available and it might take longer to make an appointment with a specialist versus a family care doctor.

To help make the process smoother, the best place to start is with the primary care physician. The patient can explain their symptoms and gather input from the PCP.

“Often that is all that is needed,” he says. “When tests such as MRI or other scans are necessary for a certain condition, the PCP guides that process. We try to remain ‘evidence-based’ in recommending a timeline for screening tests such as colonoscopy, performed by the gastroenterology specialist, and other preventative services.”

It’s also important to consider insurance when visiting a specialist. There might be differences when it comes to what tests or consultations are covered and the requirements for coverage and what copays to expect. It’s best not to be surprised, King says. Go ahead and ask questions.

 

Dentist vs. dental specialist

Specialty dentistry works much the same way as regular health care. Patients see a specialty dentist when there is a need for additional expertise in diagnosing and treating certain conditions, says Matt McShane, D.D.S., of Eastern Oklahoma Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

“There also are instances in which a fairly routine procedure or surgery can be made more complex by a patient’s health status, and these cases are sometimes referred to specialists to allow for a team approach to the patient’s overall care,” he adds.

Generally, a referral is often necessary and helpful to a dental specialist. There are often several treatment options, and a referral clarifies what the general dentist has in mind for the patient’s overall care. However, pediatric dentists usually do not require referrals, and accept new pediatric patients for dental screening, diagnosis, treatment, maintenance and management.

“There are also occasions in which oral and maxillofacial surgeons see patients who present with a severe dental infection, tumor or facial injury and require prompt care despite not having a referral,” McShane says. “Once a condition is treated and the patient is stable, I encourage these patients to seek routine dental care.”

One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to specialty dentistry is that the specialist might not be in network, he says.

“It is always helpful to discuss this topic over the phone before your consultation to avoid any surprises,” he says. “In addition, some specialists limit their practice to certain conditions and treatments. For example, some oral surgeons may not treat malignant (cancerous) pathologies or perform cosmetic facial surgery despite having training in such areas.”

 

Why specialists?

Specialty clinics have grown in numbers in recent years. Lance King, M.D., medical director at Warren Clinic and a Warren Clinic family medicine physician, says that as the population ages, they have a greater need for medical care. Many times in older patients, complexity of care increases and the need for procedures and specialty consultations increases.  

Geary says he believes many doctors pursue a specialty because they find it rewarding to delve deeply into specific health topics. They also might enjoy performing surgeries or procedures related to a specific body system, or they like to stay ahead of the latest research pertaining to a certain field.

“I also think rapid advances in medical technology and the sheer volume of knowledge specific to the different aspects of human health allow a division of labor and different roles in order to ‘find our niche’ as physicians and ultimately help as many people as possible,” he says.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

From the editor, your friendly neighborhood treehugger

A tree used to be just a tree. But now I see them more as memory-holders in the landscape of life.

Things to do in Tulsa in April

There's something for the whole family this month in Tulsa.

Adorn gifts special holiday decor to Tulsa

Tulsa native Whitney Eslicker is responsible for providing holiday cheer throughout the year via her shop, Adorn.
Edit Module

Add your comment:

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

July 2019

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

"Yer Going to Need a Bigger Boat!" Join Pinot's Palette in the Shark View Room at the Oklahoma Aquarium to paint sharks surrounded by the sea. Part of the Oklahoma...

Cost: $39

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-1507

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Please join us for our yearly summer music series as part of your Tulsa City-County Library's Summer Reading Program.  Vocalist Janet Rutland closes the season on July 22 with the music of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Library
400 civic center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa City-County Library
Contact Name: Rebecca H

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Magi 4 Christ Campers meet each Monday at 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM. At 4241 S. 37th W. Ave., Tulsa, OK. 74107.  We are a Christian group of camping enthusiasts. We are family friendly. Meeting...

Cost: Donations only

Where:
Hope House
4241 S. 37th W. Ave.
South Door Activity Center
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Magi 4 Christ Campers
Telephone: 918-906-0564
Contact Name: Dorothy Brown

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

This Magical event features: A Grand Entrance into our Showroom Greeted by Fairy Tale Princess Characters A Charming Breakfast Buffet (with paid...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Dave & Buster's
6812 S. 105th E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74014
View map »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Would you eat an invasive species? You can! The Nature Conservancy has challenged local chefs and restaurants to make you delicious dishes from invasive and native species as they compete for the...

Cost: 125.00

Where:
The Mansion at Woodward Park
2435 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy of Oklahom
Telephone: 405-445-5518
Contact Name: Larissa Balzer
Website »

More information

Would you eat an invasive species? At this event, you can! The Nature Conservancy has challenged Tulsa chefs and restaurants to make delicious dishes from invasive and native species as they...

Cost: General Admission: $125

Where:
The Mansion at Woodward Park
2435 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy
Telephone: 405-503-1411
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

11th Annual Quilt Show featuring judged and non judged quilts made by Sequoyah County and surrounding area quilters.  We will have vendors, demonstrations, door prizes and a boutique.  We will...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Blackgum Harvestime Church
451558 E 0980 Rd
Vian, OK  74962
View map »


Sponsor: Blackgum Harvestime Sewing Sisters
Telephone: 918-457-9362
Contact Name: Sharon
Website »

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Ability Resources' Raffle for Independence will take place on the 29th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Great prizes to be announced! 

Cost: $5

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74120


Sponsor: Ability Resources
Telephone: 918-592-1235
Contact Name: Krisann Diaz
Website »

More information

Join choreographers from across the country for the first of three intimate showings of new modern and contemporary dance, from the hilarious to the introspective, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

Celebrate the Latin and Hispanic cultures in our community at La Fiesta de Tulsa at Gathering Place! With live music and festive food and drinks, La Fiesta de Tulsa will bring all of the Latino...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Website »

More information

Join choreographers from around the country for an intimate evening of new modern and contemporary dance: five experimental, tender, challenging, moving works of art, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Liddy Doenges Theate
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

11th Annual Quilt Show featuring judged and non judged quilts made by Sequoyah County and surrounding area quilters.  We will have vendors, demonstrations, door prizes and a boutique.  We will...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Blackgum Harvestime Church
451558 E 0980 Rd
Vian, OK  74962
View map »


Sponsor: Blackgum Harvestime Sewing Sisters
Telephone: 918-457-9362
Contact Name: Sharon
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Join choreographers from around the country for an intimate afternoon of new modern and contemporary dance on themes of (dis)connection, home, belonging, and presence, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Liddy Doenges Theate
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

What's New


Simple composting you can do

Vermicomposting saves water, recycles organic resources and conserves landfill space

Comments

USS Batfish needs your help

Popular tourist destination in nearby Muskogee needs assistance following historic flooding

Comments: 1

Video: Mock Brothers Saddlery

Comments

6 unique places in Wichita worth a stop

Plenty to see and do in Kansas’ largest city

Comments

Award-winning screenwriter comes home to Tulsa

Three-time Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Paul W. Cooper recently returned to his native Tulsa.

Comments