Primary Care Physicians 101
A Primary Care Physician (PCP) is a medical professional who serves as the old fashioned family doctor. Unlike the old fashioned family doctor that focused on the management of ailments, today's PCPs add preventive counseling.
- Provide overall care for the patient on a continuous basis.
- Provide counseling and encouragement about wellness matters such as good nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation and screening tests.
- Recommend specialists in particular diseases or parts of the body when needed.
- Act as the gatekeeper for medical care for people who have managed care health insurance. Patients cannot see a specialist or receive other medical care without first going through a PCP.
A PCP can be a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant. Many PCPs are Internists - doctors who specialize in adult care.
People have been known to use specialists as their PCP. For instance, many women use a gynecologist as a PCP.
If you feel your PCP is not the ideal doctor for you, consider changing doctors.