What Kind of Doctor is a Primary Care Physician?

Posted on: November 26, 2018

There are several different types of doctor that are identified as a primary care physician, and they are typically: internal medicine, family practice, general practice or pediatrician.

Four kinds of doctors considered to be primary care physicians

Internal medicine

An internal medicine physician covers the care of all adults, healthy or sick. Internists (as all doctors who have accomplished an internal medicine residency are named) can be subspecialists or generalists, just like rheumatologists or cardiologists. An internist would typically evaluate patients with several issues and multiple different medications.

General internists might practice in a variety of different settings. However, an internist could act as primary care physician to a patient; they are not considered a "general practitioner," or even maybe a "family physician," whose training and education is not only concentrated on adults and might include obstetrics, pediatrics and surgery.  Several general internists could focus their attention and practice on caring for patients in the hospital environment and may even be referred to as a "hospitalists"; many hospitalists in the US are general internists.

Still other general internists will combine these facets of care and devotion to provide both inpatient and outpatient care for their patients. Other general internists could practice in unique and specific settings such as a rehabilitation center or a long-term care facility, among additional clinical settings.

Family practice

Family physicians possess unique and specialized attitudes, skills and knowledge that qualify them to deliver ongoing, comprehensive medical care to each patient and each member of the family. A family physician is a doctor who has established at least three years of specialty training (and this is above and beyond medical school) in the extensive disciplines of primary care. The cornerstone of family medicine is ongoing and active with high demand for a personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care with dedication. 

General practice

A general practitioner (GP) in the medical profession is a medical doctor who treats chronic and acute sicknesses and offers preventive care and even health education to patients.

A general practitioner understands the types of illnesses that present similarly at the beginning stages of development, which could require urgent and quick intervention. The holistic method of general practice aims to take into consideration the psychological, biological and social factors applicable to the care of each patient's needs and illness. Their duties are not restricted to specific organs of a person's body, and they have excellent abilities in providing treatment to people with multiple health issues. They are educated and trained to treat patients of any sex and age.


Pediatricians are doctors who manage the health of young children, including the child's physical, behavior and mental health issues if they apply. They're trained to treat and diagnose childhood sicknesses, from small health issues to more severe diseases.

Primary care physicians are the direct link to patients in the world of health care. 

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