What’s primary care?
A primary care provider (PCP) is your first stop for health care. You may also hear a PCP called a general practitioner. That’s because they offer a wide range of services, such as:
- Diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses
- Diagnosis and treatment of minor injuries
- Preventive care, including annual checkups
- Help managing chronic health conditions
- Healthy lifestyle counseling
- Referrals to specialists
Primary care specialties
Pick a PCP with the experience that fits your needs. PCPs may specialize in:
- Family medicine – Diagnose and treat most medical conditions and offer preventive care for all ages, including newborns.
- Family medicine with obstetrics – Family medicine provider who also provides care before, during and after delivery of a baby.
- Internal medicine – Focuses on caring for adults.
- Pediatrics – Cares for children from birth through adolescence (age 17).
- Gynecology or obstetrics-gynecology (OB-GYN) – Specializes in women’s health; may provide primary care for women without chronic conditions.
Types of primary care providers
No matter what type of PCP you prefer, you’ll get consistent, high-quality care. You might choose to receive primary care from a:
- Doctor of medicine (MD) – Physician with traditional medical training.
- Doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) – Physician with additional training in the musculoskeletal system and a focus on holistic care.
- Nurse practitioner (NP) – Medical professional with a master’s or doctorate degree and advanced clinical training to practice general medicine.
- Physician assistant (PA) – Medical professional with a master’s degree and training to practice general medicine.
Why should I have a PCP?
When you see the same person regularly for care, you benefit from a long-term relationship with a provider who knows you, your health history, your habits and your goals. That means your doctor or advanced practitioner can better help you manage your health and well-being.
Protect your health by scheduling a physical exam every year with your PCP. During your exam, your doctor may:
- Check your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and breathing rate.
- Listen to your heartbeat and breathing.
- Examine your head, neck and body.
- Do screening tests that can detect health problems before you have symptoms.
- Ask about signs of depression.
- Provide routine vaccinations.
- Talk about healthy behaviors.
Medicare wellness visits
If your health care is covered by Medicare, your benefits include a welcome visit and annual wellness visits to track your health. Learn more about Medicare wellness visits with a ProHealth Medical Group provider.
How to prepare for your visit
Take an active role in your care and get more out of your doctor visits. Make the most of your time with your PCP when you:
- Know your family medical history.
- Share your medical records, including test results and immunization records.
- Bring a list of your medications, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medicines.
- Bring a list of your allergies.
- Write down and bring a list of your questions.