What Type of Doctor Should I Choose?
The best physician is one with whom you can develop an open, trusting and long-term relationship. That’s why it may be beneficial for you to learn more about each doctor’s practice philosophy and personal interests before making a decision.
What Kinds of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) are Available?
Adult (Internal) Medicine
These specialty trained doctors focus specifically on caring for adults, by providing non-surgical medical and wellness care to patients age 18 and older. These doctors are highly skilled in the management of patients with complicated or multi-system diseases. They focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. They address “simple” issues and continue to provide care if complex medical issues develop. When appropriate, they work collaboratively with other health care providers and their patients’ families to offer best practice choices for their patients.
Family medicine doctors deliver general care for children from birth and adults throughout their lives. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, these highly skilled doctors also provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests, and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When appropriate, they work collaboratively with other health care providers and their patients’ families to offer best practice choices for their patients.
Obstetricians/Gynecologists (OB/GYN) - An important partner in women’s health, these doctors are experienced in gynecological and breast health, pregnancy, childbirth and disorders of the reproductive system. Many women have both an OB/GYN and a PCP.
The role of a pediatrician is to help a healthy baby grow into a healthy adolescent.
How is a Primary Care Physician (PCP) Different from a Pediatrician?
A PCP is the main health care provider in non-emergency situations for adults ages 18 and older. A PCP can:
- Teach patients about preventive and wellness care
- Identify and treat common medical issues, like illness and injury
- Answer medical questions and offer advice
- Make referrals to and coordinate care with medical specialists
- Order outpatient tests and treatments
- Maintain and understand a patient’s medical history
- Admit patients to a hospital, when necessary
See our How to Choose a Physician guide for help finding a new doctor who's right for you and/or your family.