Primary Care Physician (PCP)

What does Primary Care Physician (PCP) mean?

A primary care physician is the doctor responsible for overseeing a patient's basic health care as well as focusing on prevention and general wellness. Primary care doctors should encourage patients to get all necessary screenings, and if necessary, refer the patient to the appropriate medical specialist. Primary care doctors must be able to listen and respond to their patient's needs, with the goal of optimizing their patient's health.

A primary care physician can include the family medical doctor who provides medical care from birth to adulthood, including obstetrics care. Internists can also be considered a primary care physician providing medical care for adults of all ages. Finally, a pediatrician is also considered a primary care physician. Pediatricians only care for newborns, infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatricians have completed a pediatric residency and are board-certified, or board-eligible, in this specialty.

Primary care physician's salary can vary by state, but generally they are not as well compensated as other specialist. On average a primary care doctor makes approximately $200,000 or more per year. To become a primary care doctor an individual must complete a four year undergraduate program, taking courses related to health and human physiology. Next they must pass the Medical College Admissions test and go to an accredited medical school. Medical school can be completed in four years, including hands-on training in laboratories and clinical settings. Next the individual must work as an intern and finally complete their two- to six-year residency.

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