Primary Care Frequently Asked Questions
Medically reviewed by Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP – Written by Megan Lentz
What is a primary care doctor?
Primary care physicians (PCPs) — also known as primary care providers — are a vital part of your preventive care and wellness. All your routine care needs such as annual physicals, vaccinations, and lab work can be addressed by your PCP.
A PCP can be a family medicine provider, internist, or some other healthcare professionals who practice general medicine.
By working with other members of your healthcare team, your PCP can help you manage your overall health.
It's recommended that you see a primary care doctor once a year. You may need to see them more often if you have new healthcare concerns or are living with a chronic health condition.
Primary care physicians can perform the following procedures:
- blood draws for routine health tests, like cholesterol or blood sugar levels
- diagnostic tests for sexually transmitted infections
- diagnostic throat and nose swabs
- diagnostic urine tests
- physical examinations
- Pap smears
- audiometry exam (hearing test)
This is not an exhaustive list. Reach out to your PCP to find out what they can do or what might need a referral to a specialist.
Primary care physicians can treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions. Some conditions your PCP may be able to treat are:
- cold and flu
- strep throat
- urinary tract infection
- conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- ear infection
- high blood pressure
PCPs are also great resources for all of your health concerns. Even if you see your PCP for a condition that they don't directly treat, they can help refer you to a specialist.