The Different Types of Providers and Who They Treat

A primary care provider (PCP) is a health care practitioner who sees people for ongoing care, testing and treatment of common medical problems. This person is most often a doctor. However, a PCP may be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner, too. Your PCP is often involved in your care for a long time, so you should pick someone who you feel very comfortable with.

You may be able to choose among different types of medical practitioners to be your primary care provider:

What They Do Who They Treat
Family Practice


They care for the whole family, including pediatrics and OB/GYN care. Adults and children of all ages.
Internal Medicine Doctors or “Internists” They help prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults. Adults of all ages.

They provide preventive care for healthy children and treat children who are injured or ill. They specialize in childhood diseases, growth and emotional health. Newborns, infants, children and adolescents.
Geriatric Physicians or “Geriatricians”

They specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and disability in older adults. Older adults, generally 65 and older.
Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) They provide patient care under the supervision of a physician. They can order diagnostic tests and prescribe many medications. Adults and children of all ages.