The term "primary care" is used in a range of different contexts. It may refer to the primary care physician, who is a healthcare professional in general internal medicine. They are also the first point of contact when a medical issue arises. It may also be used to describe the overall health care being provided by primary care physicians and their teams.
A primary care physician specifically trains in providing comprehensive and continuous care for anyone with a health concern or undiagnosed symptom. Given that they're the first contact point, the problems these physicians deal with are nearly limitless. It can be biological, behavioral or social. They will ultimately manage the care required for you along with other healthcare professionals when needed. This can happen in a wide range of settings, such as an office, home care or via telehealth calls.
Education from your primary physican
Beyond providing care, primary care physicians will also educate you about different aspects of your health depending on your medical history. A good example of this would be recommending a particular aerobic exercise regimen to someone at a higher risk for heart disease or other cardiovascular issues.
Specific healthcare needs
Although primary care physicians handle various types of issues, they will ultimately refer you to specialists if necessary to provide proper treatment. This makes regular visits to your doctor important. They can better monitor for chronic illnesses over time and avoid sending you to more expensive specialists. Physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others will also be part of primary care teams to provide services needed for your specific needs.
Besides internal medicine, primary care providers can also practice family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. If you haven't seen your primary care doctor in the past year, you may want to consider scheduling a visit. Continue to build a trusting, supportive relationship so you know you're in good hands.