Choosing a Primary Care Physician (PCP) is an important decision for you and your loved ones. Your PCP will be your first stop for virtually all your healthcare needs, from routine physicals to specialist referrals. But did you know there are actually 5 different types of primary care providers? The kind you choose will ultimately depend on your personal needs. Let’s read about the different types of primary care doctors and who and what conditions they treat. 

Types of Primary Care Doctors

Internal Medicine Doctors

Internal medicine is a branch of primary care that specializes in adults only. An internist is familiar with a wide variety of common ailments that affect adults over a broad age range. They are trained to monitor for certain conditions based on your regular checkups and your family history.

An internal medicine doctor can be a great choice for single adults, couples without children, or older patients looking to manage chronic conditions that develop as we age. 

Pediatricians

Pediatric primary care physicians might be thought of as the opposite of internal medicine doctors. They specialize in children, from infancy to adolescence. They are well-versed in the growth and development of children, including common diseases, prevention, and important milestones. 

Pediatricians are also trained in how to speak and examine children in a way that is non-threatening and builds trust. They may have an office environment that is comforting and fun, with toys or a treasure chest with prizes. Some pediatricians even have a play area in the waiting room. 

If you have infants, small children who are frightened of the doctor, or you have a child with a chronic disease, a pediatrician can be a great option. Their expertise combined with a kid-centric approach can make all the difference in a child’s experience at the doctor’s office. 

OB-GYN

Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYN) are a type of primary care provider that specializes in women’s health. They perform routine physical exams and treat certain diseases associated with the female reproductive system. They assist with family planning and hormone replacement as needed, and can perform certain surgeries if necessary. They also perform tests, exams, and monitoring during a pregnancy and will deliver the baby when it is time. 

You might choose an OB-GYN if you are pregnant, have a reproductive health issue, are experiencing menopause, or are looking for other specialized treatment regarding women’s health. 

Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Physicians

These doctors are sometimes called Med-Peds. A Med-Ped is board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics. Board certification entails a certain level of advanced training within a certain field. Some families may take comfort in the dual certification of a Med-Ped as well as the convenience of seeing someone who can look after the whole family. 

Keep in mind, however, that med-peds do not treat women’s health. You will need to see a separate OB-GYN for pelvic exams, pap tests, pregnancy, and other women’s health issues. 

Family Medicine Doctor

As the name suggests, family medicine doctors treat the whole family. They are qualified to diagnose and treat everyone from infants to senior citizens, which makes them a great resource for those looking for both expertise and convenience. 

With a family doc, there is no need to have appointments with more than one provider. In many cases, families can complete their annual checkups on the same day, back to back. This is very appealing, especially to patients with very young children or for older patients who may have difficulty with ambulation or transportation. Like other primary care providers, family doctors can treat and diagnose a wide range of diseases, both common and complex. This includes women’s health and minor surgeries. 

Do I Need a Primary Care Physician?

Most definitely! Studies have shown that establishing a relationship with a primary care physician results in better health outcomes, including “lower rates of all causes of mortality.” In other words, a PCP is an important part in a healthier, longer life. 

Family Medicine Doctor Near Me

The Crane Center in Destin, FL is proud to offer family medicine services through our board-certified physician, Dr. Timothy Tuel. Dr. Tuel has nearly 30 years of experience treating patients from all ages. He emphasizes routine and preventive screenings for treatable diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain mental health disorders. He is a compassionate and highly qualified doctor that treats each patient like his own family. If you are in need of a family physician near you in the Destin area, call our office to schedule a new patient appointment.