What Does a Primary Care Physician Do Exactly?
Is there one person who can help you get over the common cold? Prescribe diabetes treatments. Provide preventive care for a healthier future.
There is. And no, it’s not Superman.
The person who can attend to a variety of your medical needs is called a primary care physician. But while primary doctors are essential healthcare experts, 25% of Americans do not have one.
But what does a primary care physician do? Keep reading to get the answers to all of your primary physician questions.
What Does a Primary Care Physician Do?
A primary care physician (PCP) is a health professional who practices general medicine and offers comprehensive care.
Primary care includes a variety of physical health concerns for a wide range of patients. These medical experts are often local and can provide in-person health assessments.
A quality primary care physician continues working with patients throughout their lives. They develop long-term relationships with people and understand their patients’ medical needs. A primary care physician is a person’s go-to doctor for routine healthcare needs.
Credentials and Training
Most PCPs are doctors, although nurses and physician assistants can also qualify.
A primary doctor must obtain a medical degree from an accredited school. The physician must also complete a residency to earn their title. Before starting their medical degree, the aspiring doctor must receive a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
During residency, students learn the required training to practice medicine efficiently. Primary care doctors will participate in family medicine or primary care residency.
PCPs must also pass all three parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Once the exams are completed, the physician may obtain a medical license for their intended state of practice.
There is no such thing as a typical day for a primary doctor. PCPs deal with a wide range of medical conditions and patients.
Specialized doctors are experts in particular organs, age groups, and diseases. Primary care physicians have the general medical knowledge to treat a spectrum of medical conditions.
A primary care physician is responsible for:
- Providing regular medical care to patients
- Treating illnesses and injuries
- Diagnosing medical ailments
- Administering effective medications to alleviate illnesses
- Performing routine checkups and physical exams
- Managing chronic health conditions
- Coordinating outside healthcare
In addition to treating patients, primary care doctors also perform preventive medical care. In this role, physicians focus on helping your body stay healthy to stop diseases and chronic conditions from developing.
A primary care doctor will administer preventive screenings and immunizations. The doctor may provide education on how to sustain a healthy lifestyle and recommend natural supplements to keep chronic diseases away.
Types of Primary Care Doctors
There are a variety of primary care physicians you can see.
Family practitioners are the most common, as they are doctors who care for people of all ages. Pediatricians are primary care doctors who only work with children. A geriatrician is a doctor who provides care for elderly patients.
Obstetricians or gynecologists are primary care physicians who treat female reproductive disorders. They may also work with females who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
When to See a Specialist
Most PCPs treat patients in a private office. But if the care needed is outside the primary doctor’s scope, they will refer patients to specialists.
A primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist if you:
- Have been diagnosed with a rare disease
- Require ongoing treatment for an acute medical condition
- Need reproductive health treatments
- Are not showing improvements based on current treatments
- Require a specialized surgery
- Are you a candidate for experimental treatments
- Need assistance in managing complex chronic conditions
If a PCP refers you to a specialized doctor, he or she may continue to oversee your care. They work with specialists to decide the most effective treatments. Your PCP will also schedule follow-up appointments for continued health monitoring.
Are Primary Physicians Covered Under Health Insurance?
Most standard healthcare plans should cover a visit to your primary doctor.
Patients with an HMO health insurance plan need to work with a primary physician in their insurance provider’s network.
Insurance should cover the cost of the visit, but patients are usually responsible for a small copay at the time of their appointment. Copays range depending on insurance plans, but most are between $10 and $50.
It’s important to pay attention to your insurance plan to ensure complete coverage. Some policies will only cover a certain number of preventive appointments per year. Anything over that will have to be covered by the patient.
Why Should I Have a Primary Doctor?
Primary care physicians play a vital role in a person’s overall wellness. They assist individuals in navigating medical conditions and maintaining optimal health.
PCPs help patients manage chronic conditions and coordinate effective treatments. They can reduce risk factors for degenerative diseases and enhance a person’s quality of life.
A primary care physician is someone other than yourself who understands your medical history and needs.
A primary doctor is a trustworthy source you can talk to privately about what’s going on in your body. They know your allergies, past ailments, and family history. Everything your PCP does, from treatments to disease prevention, is curated based on your body’s current and future needs.
Most importantly, having a local primary doctor can save you money. Primary doctors are a less costly option compared to visiting an Emergency Center or hospital. Some primary physicians may even provide house calls for patients who require them.
Whether looking for immediate treatments to get over a virus or need preventive healthcare, primary doctors ensure your body stays in tip-top shape.
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What does a primary care physician do? They work with patients throughout life. Primary doctors provide comprehensive healthcare to help their patients live healthy and wholesome life.
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