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Primary Care Provider (PCP)

Definition - What does Primary Care Provider (PCP) mean?

A primary care provider (PCP) can include a family doctor, pediatrician, or internal medicine physician who provides a wide array of medical services to individuals and their families.

Justipedia explains Primary Care Provider (PCP)

Under the current U.S. medical system, primary care providers are the first point of contact when an individual is sick or injured. Not only does the primary care doctor provide various services such as immunizations, wellness exams, prescriptions services, and minor emergency services, but the primary care provider can also coordinate additional visits with medical specialists.

Not all primary care providers are licensed medical doctors. In fact, due to the serious shortage of primary care doctors and the increased demand for medical care, Americans who seek medical care from a primary care provider are more likely to see a physician assistant or an advanced registered nurse practitioner rather than a certified medical doctor.

The reasons for this have been widely debated, but experts contend that the main reason is the disparity in income between primary care doctors and those who pursue other medical specialties, such as cardiology or neurology. Add to this the cost of attending medical school, and many medical students now feel that they cannot afford to become primary care doctors.

Regardless of who you choose as your primary care doctor, however, it’s important to find someone who understands your medical needs. Your primary care provider is your advocate for ensuring that you get the medical services you need within the current health care system.

Not only will you visit your primary care provider when you are sick, you will also need a PCP who can help you with disease prevention, education, health maintenance and the diagnosis of chronic illnesses—tasks that become even more critical as you age.

Remember, not all primary care providers are the same. In fact, skills can vary greatly, and you should choose a primary care provider who understands your particular health issues.

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