What Type Of Medical Professional Should You Choose As A Primary Care Practitioner?

Even if you do not get ill often, it is a good idea to have one medical professional you see anytime one is needed. This is the person you will see if you need a physical or feel ill. It is a good idea to have your first appointment when you are feeling well so there will be a baseline of information for your medical records. If you have moved or are looking for a regular medical professional, here are the different options available.

Physician's Assistant or Nurse Practitioner

A primary care practitioner (PCP) may be a physician's assistant (PA), or nurse practitioner (NP). Both of these professionals will be working under a medical doctor, but you will probably never see the physician unless there is something wrong with the way you are being treated or the problem is beyond the scope of their training. If the PCP cannot help you, he or she may refer you to a specialist. This professional is the person you will see for all your medical needs unless it is an emergency. If you are admitted to the hospital from the emergency room, this is the one who will come see you first and then call in any needed specialists.


An internist is a medical doctor who specialized in treating adults. This professional will treat you for most problems you have and understands the aging body. Generally, he or she will not act as an obstetrician. While an internist may treat you for problems related to the reproductive system, they do not deliver babies. Of course, if there is something going on that requires someone who has more experience and training in a specific area you will be referred.

Family Practitioner

A family practitioner works with all ages. He or she can treat your infant child, your teenager, yourself, and your elderly parent. Many of these doctors have also trained in obstetrics and can even be there to deliver your baby. Having one doctor all your life gives you someone who knows you well, and may even know your whole family well. If someone in your family has a condition that is often genetic, such as diabetes or heart disease, a family practitioner will know to have you tested and to watch for it in your whole family. In addition, if someone becomes ill, such as having the flu, a family doctor can help keep everyone else in the family from getting it, or at least from getting it as severely by starting treatment immediately.

Whether you choose to see a PA, NP, internist, or family practitioner is your choice. The important thing is to find someone you feel comfortable with and make sure you have a baseline physical done.