What is a Primary Care or Family Practice Doctor?

A primary care physician (PCP), also called a family practice physician or family doctor, is a doctor who begins working with a patient as their journey through care begins, taking responsibility for the patient’s care. PCPs devote the majority of their practice to providing primary care services to a specific population. This physician serves as the entry point for nearly all of the patient’s medical and healthcare needs, unlimited by:

  • The origin of a problem
  • The organ system it affects
  • A patient’s diagnosis

PCPs are advocates for a patient. They help by coordinating the use of the entire healthcare system for the maximum benefit and act as the continuing focal point for all necessary healthcare services.

Primary care practices provide patients with easy access to their own personal physician or to an established back-up physician or clinician when the PCP is unavailable.

Primary care practices serve in a variety of healthcare settings to provide:

  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Health maintenance counseling
  • Patient education
  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses