A primary care provider (PCP) is a physician who sees long-term patients on a regular basis. PCPs may see patients for regular health checkups or common medical problems. A PCP may also be called a general practitioner.
Your PCP is your main medical provider for non-emergency situations. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. If you do need to be admitted to the hospital for any reason, your primary care physician is often still involved in your care.
What Does a Primary Care Physician Do?
A primary care physician is your go-to resource for most illnesses and injuries, as well as for questions and concerns about your health.
Your PCP will track your health over time in order to catch problems as soon as possible, and prescribe medication as needed. They will also guide you through maintaining your wellbeing through healthy practices such as exercising regularly and eating right.
Primary care providers usually specialize in specific medical fields, such as:
- Family medicine Doctors whose scope includes children and adults of all ages. Their practice may include obstetrics and minor surgery.
- Geriatric medicine Doctors who specialize in the complex medical needs associated with the aging body.
- Internal medicine Doctors who diagnose and treat adults of all ages for a wide scope of medical problems that affect internal organs.
- Pediatrics Doctors who specialize in the changing needs and well-being of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialized doctors who treat all aspects of women’s reproductive health.
Most PCPs are doctors, but some may be nurse practitioners (NP) or physician assistants (PA).
Do You Need a Primary Care Physician?
A primary care physician is recommended for people of any age. Your primary doctor is familiar with your health, any conditions you may have, and your exercise and diet patterns. This familiarity with your medical history enables them to make more informed decisions about the best treatment options for you.
Sometimes, going to a same-day clinic or urgent care is unavoidable – which is exactly why they exist! Your doctor’s office may not be able to accommodate a last-minute appointment for an unexpected illness or injury. Relying on need-based visits may be convenient and less costly, but does not the provide long-term quality of care of a regular doctor.
Finding a Primary Care Physician
You will be working closely with your primary care physician for many years, so it’s important to make sure you find someone you get along with!
First, decide what kind of primary care physician is right for you and your family. Families with young children may want to consider family medicine so that everyone can be treated in the same place. Adults who do not have children, or whose children are grown and out of the house may find that general practice is a better fit. Everyone’s situation is different, so choose what works best for you!
The proximity of your doctor’s office is also an important factor to consider. It’s easier to skip a regular checkup when traffic is bad and the office is all the way across town!
It’s also important to make sure that a potential primary care physician takes your health insurance. You’ll also want to check what your insurance covers.
Other questions you’ll need to consider include:
- Is the office staff friendly, respectful, and helpful?
- How easy is it to reach your PCP? Does the office return phone calls in a timely manner?
- Do you prefer a doctor whose style is warm and welcoming, or more formal?
- Does the doctor’s treatment style (conservative or aggressive) match your preference?
- Is the doctor more authoritative about your health and treatment, or do they present a doctor-patient partnership instead?
- If a colleague or family member goes to this PCP, what do they say about the doctor’s style and technique?
Primary Care Providers at Florida Medical Clinic
From newborn to old age, an individual’s health needs change over time. With our team of experienced, board-certified doctors, Florida Medical Clinic is well-equipped to take care of you and your family through all stages of life.
Explore Primary Care Doctors »
Explore Obstetrics, Gynecology and Midwifery »