Your primary care doctor or primary care provider (PCP) is a medical doctor who specializes in either internal or family medicine. In addition to providing routine medical care, your primary care doctor also helps to identify potential health problems and promote your overall wellness.
Also known as an internist, an internal medicine doctor typically provides care for adult patients age 18 and above. Family medicine doctors provide care for individuals of all ages, from infants to adults. Both are highly trained medical professionals with experience in identifying and treating a broad range of health conditions.
No. A family medicine doctor treats individual patients of all ages and genders.
It’s helpful to think of your PCP as the “conductor” who orchestrates your medical care — from the simple to the complex. He or she will maintain your full medical history in order to provide you with the best care possible. If you need advanced care, your primary care doctor is your link to medical specialists, advanced services, and treatments.
Because early diagnosis and treatment usually leads to better outcomes and recovery, your PCP will recommend screenings such as annual physicals, Pap tests, breast exams, mammograms, prostate screenings, colonoscopies, and others.
Having a primary care doctor you see regularly is key to your overall health. Through regular visits, your PCP gets to know you, your family history, and your lifestyle. You can develop a trusting relationship with your PCP that allows you to talk honestly and openly about your health concerns.
Your PCP helps you stay healthy by providing regular checkups, preventive health care screenings, and vaccinations. Your PCP can help you successfully manage life-threatening and “silent” medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. Your PCP also can connect you to highly trained medical specialists when you need advanced or specialized care. When your care includes treatment from numerous health care specialists, your PCP can ensure you receive the best possible care.
Many of UPMC’s primary care providers now offer “walk-in” hours. View our walk-in center locations and hours. However, it’s good to contact your primary care doctor’s office and ask about walk-in hours.
Your PCP knows you and your health history, which is valuable information. It’s advisable to seek care from your PCP whenever possible. “Express care” facilities can be a helpful resource when you can’t see your PCP for an urgent medical condition or when your doctor’s office is closed.
It’s important to advise your PCP whenever you do receive express care or emergency treatment so the information can be included in your medical records.
Having a primary care provider is a cost-efficient and cost-effective source of health care. Some medical insurance coverage may cover the cost of a routine check-up or annual visit to a PCP.
Personal preferences, such as office location, or a doctor’s age or gender, may be important factors in your choice of a PCP. Ask family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for recommendations. Make sure that the doctor accepts your insurance and is affiliated with hospitals included in your health care coverage.
The next step is to make an appointment. Be sure to share your questions, concerns, and expectations with the doctor and staff. Then, you can decide if the doctor is a good fit for you.
UPMC has nearly 200 primary care offices located in western Pennsylvania. You can find a highly skilled primary care provider near your home or workplace by visiting UPMC Find a Doctor.
There are a variety of reasons. People may switch because of changes in medical insurance, or perhaps their current doctor retires, or they move to a new region or state.
Having a PCP is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your health. UPMC primary care doctors have convenient office locations and when needed, can provide access to UPMC broad range of specialists.