A primary care physician is your personal doctor that you see for wellness check-ups and common illnesses. Primary care physicians establish a baseline record of your health and can track it over time, while focusing on wellness (disease prevention and the promotion of health). If necessary, they can refer you to a specialist for further testing and provide unique insight about your history the specialist can use in making a diagnosis.
Because the long-term relationship established between you and your primary care physician enables continuity of care, communication with your doctor is very important. You will want to choose a physician with whom you feel comfortable sharing information as this helps the doctor make the best decisions about your care. There several types of PCPs:
Family Medicine practitioners provide continuing, comprehensive health care for individual family members of both genders and all ages. By placing special attention on the family as a group, the Family Medicine practitioner provides more integrated care to all patients within a family.
- Emphasize disease prevention and wellness by recommending preventive tests
- Coach patients to change health behaviors so they don't develop chronic conditions
- Monitor chronic conditions to prevent further complications
- Collaborate with the specialist, coordinating the patient's healthcare and serving as the patient's advocate in all care settings when a referral to a specialist is necessary
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Internal Medicine physicians provide medical (nonsurgical) treatment for patients ranging in age from adolescent through senior years. Internists focus on the entire body of a patient and function in many capacities, as a diagnostician, a personal physician, health counselor, educator and consultant. As diagnosticians, they:
- are specially trained to address medical situations in which several different illnesses may occur at the same time
- manage complex and chronic illnesses, but also encourage wellness
- care for patients for life, in the clinic, during hospitalization and in even the nursing home, coordinating care when other specialists are involved
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A pediatrician is a physician who specializes in treating children from newborn through adolescent years. Pediatricians provide routine preventive care, such as physical exams, immunizations, treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries, and promote wellness. While routine care is important, Pediatricians also play close attention to a child's progress to detect and manage diseases and conditions that affect his or her development. Their goal is to help each child mature into a healthy adult by reaching his or her full physical, mental and emotional growth potential. Find a Pediatrician.
As with other primary care physicians, Pediatricians work with other medical specialists. Their appreciation of the vulnerability of children and adolescents makes them excellent advocates for children when communicating with patients, families and other professionals.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
An Obstetrician/Gynecologist, commonly abbreviated as OB/GYN, is a physician who specializes in the health of pregnant and non-pregnant women. An Obstetrician/Gynecologist can serve both as a primary physician and consultant to other physicians. Other services include:
- Medical care for women before and during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and postpartum care
- Preventive care and screening for gynecological diseases
- Care for hormonal disorders
- Find an Obstetrician/Gynecologist