There are many kinds of doctors. The most common one most people see is a primary care provider (PCP).
What is a Primary Care Provider and what do they do?
Primary care providers (PCPs) are typically the first person you talk to if you have a health concern. Your PCP will get to know you and be able to help you access the care you need. They help you determine what screening tests and preventive services are necessary. They provide treatment for many common illnesses, injuries, and chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. They can identify potential physical and mental health issues early and can order additional testing and start treatment, if needed. If a potential health problem is complex, then they might refer you to a specialist and then will work together with the specialist to coordinate your care. Everyone should have a PCP!
How do I choose a primary care provider (PCP)?
PCPs can come from several medicine practices including family medicine, internal, pediatrics, geriatrics, OB-GYNs (obstetrics and gynecology), naturopaths, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.
That is a lot of different options! We are here to break down the different types of primary care providers to help you and your family choose the right PCP for you.
Types of Primary Care Providers:
Family medicine doctors are PCPs who focus on providing care for your whole family. They are trained to maintain the health of patients of all ages—from newborns to older adults. Family medicine doctors can treat physical and behavioral health conditions, perform office procedures, and some can deliver babies.
Internists are doctors who treat adults only. They specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions.
Pediatricians are doctors who provide well child care, and also treat diseases in infants, children, and teenagers.
Did you know?
If your family medicine doctor provides care for infants and children, they can also be considered your children’s pediatrician. This is true even when the hospital asks who your newborn’s pediatrician is when it’s time to go home after birth. They can even be your OB-GYN in most cases!
Geriatricians are doctors who have additional training in treating older adults, especially those 65 years and older. They focus on health issues and diseases in elderly patients including chronic with conditions like Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
OB-GYNs (obstetrics and gynecology)
Sometimes women choose to have an OB-GYN as their primary care provider. OB-GYN doctors are experts in women’s health, specifically female reproductive health.