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What Kind of Doctor is a Primary Care Doctor?

What kind of doctor is a primary care doctor? It might sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many doctors are completely misinformed about what it takes to become a primary care doctor. Some do not even take into consideration the fact that a primary care doctor plays an integral role in a patient's overall healthcare. You might think of your family doctor as the primary care provider, but it is important to realize that your primary care doctor can play a much larger role. If you have any misgivings about your primary care doctor, please consider this:

A primary care doctor should focus on preventive medicine, but not primarily on diagnosing illnesses. They focus on wellness and general health management. It is important for them to keep abreast of current medical research and learn at least something in the area of genetics. In fact, many states require that they receive some form of education in genetics. A primary care doctor might also refer their patients to a family medicine doctor or an internal medicine doctor for a particular illness. Many internal medicine doctors and family medicine doctors specialize in a specific area of health.

When looking at what kind of doctor is a primary care doctor, you need to think about what they actually do. Generally, primary care doctors attend medical school before becoming a practicing doctor. Once they receive their license, they open their practice in a medical facility dedicated to providing primary care. This might be an outpatient facility or a hospital. Many primary care doctors work in specialty areas, such as pediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics and women's health, among others.

One specialty that many primary care doctors work in is private medicine. This is especially true in Medicare Advantage Plans. In an Advantage Plan, the doctor accepts Medicare claims for the services the patient received from other physicians and hospitals. If a Medicare beneficiary elects to use a non-participating primary care doctor, he or she must select one through a list of approved providers provided by the Medicare program.

Some hospitals also employ primary care doctors who perform the same level of care as hospital-based specialists. In fact, some hospitals offer in-house primary care physicians along with hospital cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons. These are called extended care facilities. The advantage of having a primary care physician available in an extended care facility is the ability to receive advanced medical treatment from a specialist while staying in the hospital.

Another specialty that most primary care physicians practice is internal medicine. This includes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illnesses. A primary care doctor can choose to specialize in either internal medicine or pediatrics. There are even primary care doctors who choose to become nurses practitioner, performing both internal medicine and pediatric practice.

An increasing number of primary care doctors, particularly those specializing in pediatrics, are now working in health management companies and health information technology companies. In a health management company, a primary care doctor works one on one with patients to develop a medical care plan based on their specific needs. The primary care doctor works directly with insurers and medical care suppliers to develop and implement care plans. They can also refer patients to appropriate doctors and help make decisions about health insurance.

Some have expressed concern that a shift from private practice to working in a Medicare system will limit a physician's creativity and prevent him or her from offering the specific services that might bring a patient relief. According to Castillo, "I can provide the kinds of preventive care that a doctor does at a clinic, but I can't do everything a physician can do in a hospital. So my practice is really a combination of the two. I give my patients a full range of medical services." Doctors like Castillo can provide eye exams, prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections and prescribe hearing aids to patients who can't hear.

Cynthia Lopez

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