Primary care is defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal healthcare needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients and practicing in the context of family and community.” Integrated care is comprehensive and addresses healthcare needs at stages throughout a patient’s life, coordinated and continuous over time.
What Is a Primary Care Physician?
Primary care practitioners include physicians who specialize in internal medicine or family medicine. Related specialties for specific groups of patients include pediatrics (for children), OB/Gyn (for women) and gerontology (for older adults). Your care team may include the physician, physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP) and/or medical assistant. If you don’t currently have a primary care relationship, take the time to invest in your health today. To find a primary care provider on staff at Cullman Regional, click here or call (256) 735-5600.
Primary care providers treat a variety of illnesses and conditions, conduct health screenings and comprehensive physical exams, and provide primary, wellness and preventive healthcare. If you develop a health issue that requires specialty care, they will refer you to the appropriate specialist(s).
Comprehensive primary care services include, but are not limited to the following:
- Annual health and wellness exams
- Management of chronic diseases (i.e., hypertension, diabetes, depression or heart disease)
- Routine immunizations (flu, tetanus, pneumonia and others)
- Treatment of minor injuries
- Referral to specialists as needed
- Onsite laboratory services
All physicians practicing internal medicine or family medicine have attended four years of medical school, completed a three-year residency and are licensed to practice by the state. The focus of residency work is what differentiates the two areas. Either is a sensible choice for your primary care physician.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Family Medicine?
These doctors (family practitioners) are widely skilled with training in the care of patients at every stage of life, from birth through childhood, adulthood and old age. In residency, a family practitioner receives training on caring for the whole family, including pediatrics and OB/Gyn care. A family practitioner may be right for you if you are looking for a doctor for yourself and your children, or one who can transition your teen from his/her pediatrician to an adult primary care provider.
What is Internal Medicine?
Physicians (internists) that focus on the care of adults and elderly patients. Broadly, internists are “doctors for adults.” In residency, an internist trains solely on adult health and disease affecting adults, with emphasis on the management of chronic, complex or severe illnesses in those age 16 and older.
Both specialties treat a variety of illnesses and conditions, conduct health screenings and comprehensive physical exams, and provide primary, wellness and preventive healthcare. They can partner with you to monitor and manage long-term conditions. If you develop a condition that requires specialty care, they will refer you to the appropriate specialist(s).
What are Physician assistants (PAs)?
These are medical providers licensed to prescribe medications, diagnose and treat illness and disease. They work in physician offices, hospitals and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician. They have completed advanced education and extensive clinical training. Working as part of your integrated medical team, PAs are critical to increasing access to care by expanding the capacity of physician practices across the country.
What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)
A registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical education and experience in the care of the sick and in diagnosis, treatment and management of common and chronic illnesses. They can diagnose and treat medical conditions, administer vaccinations and prescribe medications. NPs offer a holistic and wellness orientation that emphasizes health education, risk identification and reduction and preventive care through lifestyle modification.
Because of growing time demands on physicians and the shortage of doctors in numerous specialties, both PAs and NPs provide a high quality, skilled and practical option for many of your healthcare needs.
What is a Hospitalists?
Hospitalists are physicians and nurse practitioners who specialize in in-patient hospital care. This is a service requested by your physician, and the hospitalists will communicate with your physician regarding your care both during and after your discharge from the hospital.