Which doctors qualify as Primary Care Physicians?

Primary Care Physicians

There are 24 specialties in medicine but typically only three qualify as PCPs. Although some women may think their Obstetrician/Gynecologist qualifies as a PCP, in most cases only doctors with the following three specialties are considered PCPs:

Family Practice or General Practice: A family practitioner is qualified to care for the entire family. A family practitioner can be board-certified and have training in a variety of subjects including Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. This specialty was more common in years past but can still be found to treat the entire family.
Internal Medicine: An internist can diagnose and treat disease with medicine. An internist is not a surgeon. There are several sub-specialties an internist can have, including: specializing in a particular organ, like the lungs or the kidneys, a particular disease, like diabetes, or a particular age group, like the elderly.
Pediatrics: A pediatrician specializes in the overall well-being of children. Most pediatricians treat children from birth until adolescence or about 14 years old. Pediatricians can have sub-specialties such as surgery or pediatric cardiology.

Why should you choose a Primary Care Physician?

Don’t wait until you get sick to choose a PCP. Primary Care Physicians see their patients regularly, looking for symptoms a patient may not notice. Annual exams may help your PCP guide you toward healthy lifestyle habits that may decrease the likelihood that you’ll need expensive specialty care. In most cases, a PCP will need to refer you to a specialist should you need one. PCPs can educate patients on healthy habits and catch early warning signs that may require further investigation. For example, a routine health exam may uncover conditions such as high blood pressure or even hormonal imbalances due to glandular problems. Health problems like these can go unnoticed by the patient for years resulting in serious chronic health issues. Developing a relationship with your Primary Care Physician can help keep illnesses at bay. Remember the old adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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