What Are the Different Types of Primary Care?

Jennifer Long

Primary care is a type of health care that is used to provide regular care and prevention of illnesses. Health care providers cover a broad range of health services that deal with general medical care. Family care, obstetrics and gynecology, and internal medicine are the three general types of this form of health care. The first contact between a patient and medical professional mainly occurs through a primary care physician (PCP). Although a PCP is usually a physician who focuses on the field of health care in general, a PCP can also be a physician who has an area of expertise, such as an obstetrician or gynecologist. Internal medicine and nurse practitioners can also be considered PCPs. Each type of medical professional is licensed to practice medicine.

Obstetricians can be a part of a primary care health team.
Obstetricians can be a part of a primary care health team.

Family practice physicians are educated and licensed to practice primary care for all patients, regardless of age. PCPs in family care are more commonly chosen. These physicians have the ability to deal with a wide variety of problems. Family PCPs can diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses that do not require treatment by a specialist. Additionally, family care physicians also deal with general wellness and maintaining good health. These doctors are responsible for helping patients stay healthy and recover from illness quickly.

Gynecologists are often considered a type of primary care doctor.
Gynecologists are often considered a type of primary care doctor.

Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) can be considered as both special care and primary care. Women use these physicians to deal with reproductive health. These doctors specialize in this particular area of medicine, but they are also trained in general medicine areas. Many women under the regular care of an OB/GYN also choose use these medical professionals as their PCP. This can be particularly helpful because there are many potential illnesses that also influence reproductive health.

Internal medicine, similar to obstetrics and gynecology, focuses on a special area of medicine, but it can also be considered a type of primary care. Doctors of internal medicine are educated in the same areas of health as doctors of family care. The difference is that internal medicine focuses mainly on the illnesses and health of adults.

Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can be found in many of the different types of primary care. They operate in the same capacity as physicians, but they are supervised by the physicians they work for. These two types of medical professionals are educated in general health as well as any specialty areas they may choose to practice in.

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