Specialist in Family Medicine
Cara Barrett is a Physician Assistant with Galen Medical Group who specializes in family medicine and urgent care. She is also heading up Galen’s new HealthReach program, purposed to provide on-site and telehealth care in schools and businesses in the Chattanooga area.
Cara grew up in a family of medical practitioners. Her mother worked as a nurse, and her father was a family practice physician in a small rural community in northern California. She recalls accompanying her father on house calls as a young child, cultivating an early appreciation for medicine that lit her way toward this career path.
She started her healthcare career by obtaining her Associates Degree in Nursing at Chattanooga State, after which Cara worked as a Registered Nurse while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. After working as a nurse for 10 years in different settings including the operating room, women’s health and post-surgical floor, she decided to continue on to Physician Assistant school, attending the University of Washington in Seattle. After graduating in 2012, Cara began working as a Physician Assistant with a focus on urgent and primary care as well as internal medicine.
Cara has always had a love for science and being social, and she says her career offers a perfect marriage of those two loves. She has a special passion for family medicine and the variety it offers her, treating patients of all ages with varying conditions and needs. “It’s often like putting a puzzle together,” she said. “I love the variety that comes with helping people with each holistic piece of their overall health.”
17 total years in medicine, 2 of them as part of the Galen team, have helped shape Cara into the amazing, compassionate, and driven provider she is today. She loves Chattanooga, spending time with her husband and two children enjoying the outdoor activities this area offers, and is eager to pour her energy into Galen’s new HealthReach program for the benefit of our community.
ADN | Chattanooga State
BSN | University of Phoenix
PA-C | University of Washington in Seattle
AAPA | American Academy of Physician Assistants
TAPA | Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants
Our primary care physicians specialize in internal medicine for adults. They are equipped to diagnose and treat a broad and comprehensive spectrum of acute and chronic illnesses. Our providers emphasize disease prevention, and work with the patient to develop a healthy lifestyle, manage their individual health, and provide needed advice throughout the many stages of adulthood.
Our goal is to improve the health of those we serve with a commitment to excellence through mutual goal setting and evidence-based treatment in a caring, comfortable, convenient, and cost-effective setting.
Preventive medicine is practiced by all physicians to keep their patients healthy. It is also a unique medical specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Preventive medicine focuses on the health of individuals, communities, and defined populations. Its goal is to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and to prevent disease, disability, and death.
Preventive medicine specialists are licensed medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathy (DO), who possess core competencies in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental and occupational medicine, planning and evaluation of health services, management of health care organizations, research into causes of disease and injury in population groups, and the practice of prevention in clinical medicine. They apply knowledge and skills gained from the medical, social, economic, and behavioral sciences.
What is a wellness exam?
An annual wellness exam is a comprehensive preventive exam with your primary care physician for the sole purpose of preventive care. An annual exam does not include discussion of new problems or detailed review of chronic conditions. An annual exam may also be called a routine check-up, yearly exam, annual pap, or preventive visit.
Will my insurance pay for a wellness exam?
Most health plans will pay for one wellness or preventive exam per year. Your insurance provider may consider this to be (1) once per calendar year or (2) or once every 366 days from the date of your last wellness exam.
If you have had any other visit billed as preventive during this time period your plan is likely to deny your wellness exam. This would include a well-woman exam or annual pap smear. Your plan may not pay for all testing and/or labs ordered during your wellness exam. If your provider has a concern and orders diagnostic testing and/or labs during your exam you may be financially responsible.
It is the patient’s responsibility to check with their insurance provider to see what is covered under their wellness benefit, and to ensure they are eligible prior to scheduling their annual wellness exam.
What is the difference between a wellness exam and a problem visit?
Preventive visits and tests ordered by your provider can help you stay healthy and catch problems early. Diagnostic visits and testing are used to diagnose a current health problem. Diagnostic tests are ordered by your provider when you have symptoms and they want to find out why. For example, your provider might want you to have a test because of your age or family history, that’s preventive care, but if it’s because you’re having symptoms or a problem, that is diagnostic care.
Can I have a wellness exam and problem visit at the same time?
The answer is Yes, but not preferred. It is possible to address a problem at a wellness exam, however, it is not the preferred method. A wellness exam is a comprehensive review of systems, medications, past and current medical history, health risk assessment, and preventive testing for potential risks. Wellness exams typically do not require a copay, and, many times, may be covered at 100% (this, of course, is dependent on your insurance plan). When you combine a problem visit with the wellness exam you are billed for both a wellness visit, and a problem visit; which may then require a copay, or have the charges applied to your deductible. For this reason, we ask that you please schedule a separate appointment, on a different day, if you have any new concerns or ongoing health problems that need more attention.