What Are the Different Types of Primary Care Courses?

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  • Written By: A. Reed
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2019
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Primary care courses are taken by healthcare professionals for education and training in providing primary healthcare to individuals, families, and communities. Healthcare professionals such as nurse practitioners (NP) complete classes in pathophysiology and clinical pharmacology, while physician assistants (PA) take courses typically found in a medical school curriculum, including cardiovascular medicine and psychiatry. Seminar courses combined with medical rotations through various settings and areas of medicine are completed during residency, which are several years of training that doctors receive in the accomplishment of specialties including primary care and family medicine. Resident physicians may complete seminar courses in communication, health policy, and research.

Nurse practitioners are educated to provide primary healthcare and treatment to people across the lifespan from birth to old age, managing both acute and chronic illness. Family nurse practitioners complete primary care courses such as pathophysiology, studying various processes of disease and how each one specifically affects the human body. A separate course is also typically taken in pediatric pathophysiology, which focuses on how illnesses function, particularly in babies and children. Clinical pharmacology courses covers the effect of drugs on the body, including how they are metabolized and distributed.


While NPs and physician assistants are both trained to practice medicine as primary healthcare providers, the education each receives is quite different. The NP is trained upon a nursing foundation and has a psychosocial focus, while the PA is educated along the same track as medical doctors. Common primary care courses taken in PA programs include Fundamentals of Cardiology, Fundamentals of Hematology, and Essentials of Psychiatry. In Fundamentals of Cardiology, PA students cover concepts involved in cardiovascular medicine, including diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the cardiovascular system such as coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Fundamentals of Hematology studies focus on blood disorders and students explore mental disease case management in Essentials of Psychiatry.

Most doctors complete further training in a specialty area of medicine, commonly referred to as a residency, in which they gain extensive experience in medicine under direct supervision. Certain primary care residency programs offer seminar courses such as those on medical interviewing and communication skills, during which doctors conduct video recordings of themselves while interviewing patients. These recordings are then viewed and discussed, placing emphasis on the psychosocial aspects of communication between patient and doctor. Other primary care courses offered include those related to healthcare policy and resident research. in which doctors discuss independent research projects and problem solve in a group setting.


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