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How To Choose A Primary Care Doctor

Step 1. Decide What Kind of Doctor You Need

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The different types of doctor who people use as primary care doctors are:

General Practitioner

The old fashioned doctor, a "jack of all trades."

Family Practitioner

Similar to general practitioners, with extra training to focus on health care for all family members, regardless of age.


A doctor who specializes in the care of older adults. A geriatrician is trained in family practice or internal medicine, with additional training in caring for older people.


A doctor who specializes in adults. Some internists take additional training to become specialists. For example, cardiologists are internists who specialize in diseases of the heart.


A specialist in female problems, or what happens below the waist. Many women believe that they get all the general medical care they need if they see an OB-GYN once a year. Keep in mind that such a specialist doesn't care for the rest of your body. Conventional wisdom is that women should also have another doctor as their primary care doctor.


A specialist in treating cancer. Some oncologists also act as Primary Care doctors. Experts suggest that an oncologist who also acts as a primary care doctor is of great value for a cancer survivor because the doctor can treat your overall health, while looking for any signs of worsening or recurrence of your cancer -- including signs that a doctor who is not a cancer specialist may miss.

HIV Specialist

Many people with HIV use their HIV specialist as a primary physician. HIV has become like a chronic condition. Symptoms run the gamut and many symptoms could appear to be both general population conditions like the flu and HIV complications.

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