Primary Care Careers

Medical Careers in Primary Care

Healthcare reform has resulted in more Americans becoming insured, and therefore the demand for primary care physicians has increased. If you are seeking a clinical career that will be in very strong demand in coming years, a primary care career could be a great option if you enjoy assessing and diagnosing patients with a variety of potential issues.

Internal Medicine Physician

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An internist, or internal medicine physician, is a physician who sees adult patients from about age 18 through adulthood and beyond into geriatric years. Internists' complete a very hospital-based residency program and therefore some do choose to practice as hospitalists instead of primary care.

Family Medicine Physician

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A family medicine physician, also known as a family practitioner or FP, is another type of physician who provides primary care. There are many similarities between family medicine physicians and internists, but they are not the same. FPs also treat patients in childhood in addition to adulthood and geriatrics. Additionally, while residencies are the same length for both internists and FPs (three years), FP residency typically is more clinic-based than hospital based.

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A pediatrician is another type of primary care physician. Pediatricians provide primary care to children only.

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Physician Assistant

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Physician assistants can work in many specialties, but they will be very much in demand for primary care in coming years, including pediatrics, family medicine, and internal medicine practices. Physician assistants are master's prepared advanced healthcare providers who can practice independently in some states and prescribe medications as well. Many people choose this career because it offers a lot of autonomy when treating patients but does not require so many years of school and clinical training.

Nurse Practitioner

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Like physician assistants, nurse practitioners can practice in a wide variety of specialties, but primary care will offer a great deal of job security for NPs in coming years as demand for primary care increases. Nurse practitioners also hold at least a master's degree in an NP nursing program. If you are interested in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics, a nurse practitioner role may be an option for you if you want a high-level, high-paying nursing career, and primary care will offer many openings. Some healthcare industry analysts predict that NPs and PAs could be one of the solutions for the projected physician shortage.

Medical Assistant

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If you are interested in working in primary care but are not sure you can obtain a doctorate level or master's level degree, medical assisting in a primary care practice could be an option. As a medical assistant, you would support physicians, nurses, and physician assistants in a variety of ways to help them provide quality care to their patients. This may include prepping rooms, taking vital signs, and more. Because medical assistants are not independent providers of patient care, the demand may not be quite as high as the above roles. However, as primary care practices continue to grow and hire more providers to meet increased demand, they will most likely also need more medical assistants to support those providers' efforts.

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