There are also other medical practitioners who may assist patients in the same way as general practitioners. Such practitioners include physician assistants and nurse practitioners. PCPs take over the health of the patients they serve for long. That makes it necessary to exercise caution when making the choice.
PCPs work to diagnose and treat common health conditions and illnesses. The skills and scope of practice they are trained in allows for provision of general health care services to handle general health matters. Interviews are one of the main diagnostic methods they use to collect information from patients. They ask questions directed at understanding the symptoms and medical history of the patient. The interviews are then followed by physical examination of the patient.
PCPs have basic skills in medical testing. As such, they are in a position to interpret results from patient samples such as blood, urine, and saliva among other body fluids. They are also able to interpret x-rays and electrocardiograms. Results from diagnostic procedures that are more time-intensive and complex are usually obtained through referral to more specialized medical practitioners.
Basing on the results obtained from the referral doctor and the participation of the patient, the physician formulates a plan for handling the medical condition. This may involve conducting further tests, referring the patient to a specialist, change in lifestyle, educating the patient, therapy, or change in diet among others. They also offer immunizations, screening tests, self-care skills, treatment options, and guidance and education on safe health behaviors. These services are usually offered in an outpatient setting.
Before qualifying to practice, there is a lot of training PC doctors must undergo. The intensive training equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to handle general health conditions effectively. Research shows that PCPs offer better preventive care in comparison to specialist doctors. The qualification process starts with earning a medicine degree from a recognized medical school. Medical school takes four years to complete and students may earn a M. B. B. S, M. D, or D. O degree.
After graduating from medical school, students are required to undertake postgraduate training in programs that deal with primary care. Such programs include family medicine, internal medicine, gynecology, and pediatrics among others. Licensure is also needed before one can start practicing. Licensing is done by a board of specialists who regulate the practice.
It is wise to invest some effort in looking for a general practitioner. People with specific health conditions should look for physicians that have specific experience in that area. One may ask for referrals and pay the physician a visit to be better placed.
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