There are several types of primary care physicians (PCPs) you can choose from. It’s important to find the right type of physician for your individual health needs.
Internal Medicine Physician
Internal medicine physicians specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases in adults. They are vital in helping patients manage chronic conditions. An internal medicine physician may choose to remain a generalist or further specialize in a wide variety of sub-specialties ranging from cardiology to sleep to sports medicine.
General practitioners treat patients of any age and sex. Like all PCPs, they provide routine care, focusing on prevention; diagnose and treat a variety of common conditions; and refer to their patients to specialists when needed.
Pediatricians focus their practice on caring for infants and children, guiding and supporting them through immunizations, illnesses and injuries until they reach the end of adolescence (somewhere between the ages of 14 and 18).
Family Medicine Physician
Family medicine physicians are the generalists of medicine and are trained to treat the entire family, from newborns to grandparents. They receive some training in specialty areas such as pediatrics and obstetrics (women’s health) during their education so they can provide routine care for patients of all ages.
OB-GYNs are doctors who specialize in women’s health, including fertility, childbirth and female-specific health issues. Many women of child-bearing age rely on their OB-GYN for routine screenings and care. Make sure to check with your health plan before using your OB-GYN as your PCP.
DO or MD?
A DO is a doctor of osteopathy. Doctors with DOs have gone through similar training as doctors with MDs, including four years of medical school and additional training in their specialty. MDs and DOs both use traditional treatment methods. One of the only differences is that DOs tend to treat the body as a whole and use techniques that include manual manipulation to diagnose and treat patients. Either type of doctor can be your PCP.