Types of Healthcare Providers 

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Written By Juliet D'cruz

Many people commonly talk about going to the doctor’s office or needing to see a doctor when sick. But in truth, you don’t always get to see a doctor, and that’s not such a bad thing. There are many types of healthcare providers who work in different settings and specialize in different areas of healthcare. In this post, we shall break down different types of healthcare providers. Let’s delve in!

Family Practice and Internal Medicine Doctors

These fall under the primary care category. However, the focus of their residency training differs. Family practice physicians, also known as family medicine doctors, are trained to care for the entire family, including children (pediatrics) and OB/GYN. On the other hand, internal medicine training solely focuses on adult patients and the conditions they commonly face.

Both types of physicians must undergo regular medical training throughout their careers to stay updated with the latest medical knowledge. Some of the primary care services offered by these physicians include:

  • Treating different illnesses and conditions
  • Conducting comprehensive physical examinations and health screenings
  • Providing primary, preventive, and wellness healthcare

Both internal medicine and family practice physicians can help you monitor and manage long-term illnesses. And if you require care from a specialist, your primary care provider can help facilitate the referral and ensure you receive the necessary care.

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Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Commonly referred to as OB/GYNs, obstetricians and gynecologists focus on female reproductive health. These physicians are trained to provide comprehensive care for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the management of any disorders related to the female reproductive system. OB/GYNs also function as the primary care provider for some women.

If you desire your OB/GYN to be your primary care provider, it’s important to inquire if they are willing to fulfill that role. However, some OB/GYNs may choose to focus solely on reproductive health and recommend a family practice or internal medicine physician to address non-reproductive medical issues. 

Similar to family practice and internal medicine physicians, OB/GYNs undergo four years of medical school and complete a three-year residency program. The residency program generally focuses on pregnancy, childbirth, and medical and surgical management of female reproductive health conditions.


Pediatricians are medical doctors with specialized training to provide medical care for children of all ages—from newborns to adolescents. After completing their training, which takes four years, pediatricians undergo three years of residency training.

The main responsibility of pediatricians is to provide preventive care for healthy children and treat those who are injured or sick. Their expertise lies in diagnosing and managing childhood diseases, monitoring growth and development, and addressing emotional health concerns.

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Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopathy

Medical Doctors (M.Ds) and Doctors of Osteopathy (D.Os) are licensed physicians trained to practice medicine. The primary distinction lies in the type of four-year medical school they attend, which can be either traditional medical schools or osteopathic medical schools.

After completing medical school, M.Ds and D.Os undergo further training through internships and residencies. Similar to medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy can choose to specialize in any area of medicine. However, both specialists must pass set examinations to be licensed and get board certification. 

Advanced Practice Providers

Generally, primary care physicians enlist the assistance of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs). APPs are nurse practitioners and physician assistants trained to provide care for patients under the supervision of a physician.

Advanced practice providers are licensed to offer primary care services, which include ordering diagnostic tests and prescribing medications. Nurse practitioners must undergo a registered nursing degree program as part of their bachelor’s degree. Additionally, they can obtain a master’s degree from an accredited nurse practitioner program.

Similarly, physician assistants hold a bachelor’s degree and complete a master’s level program in physician assistant studies. Physician assistants may specialize in various fields of medicine, such as family medicine.


Geriatrics is often not considered a part of primary care in medicine. Geriatricians receive specialized training to provide care for adults aged 60 and above, diagnosing and treating various diseases and injuries common in older adults, such as falls and memory issues.

Additionally, they assist with medication management as older patients often require prescriptions for chronic and acute conditions. Geriatric care emphasizes patient well-being and maintaining their independence. They can work in different settings such as private practices, group practices, long-term care facilities, and hospitals.

Which Healthcare Provider Should You Choose?

As you can see, there are different types of primary care providers, and the services offered by these providers overlap. Because of this, most people have a challenge in choosing a healthcare provider who suits their health needs. If you fall into that category, here are 3 tips to help you choose the right healthcare provider. 

Understand Your Needs

Before selecting a reliable primary care physician, it’s crucial to recognize your healthcare needs. This can be physical, mental, and emotional needs. Then you will need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you have any specific illnesses that require specialized medical care?
  • What medical conditions are you primarily concerned about?
  • Which part of your body requires the most medical attention?

These questions can give you insights into your healthcare requirements, which can help you determine what to look for in a primary care doctor.

Check Whether the Provider Is Certified

Certifications provide concrete evidence that a healthcare provider has the necessary training and skill set to provide their services. To verify their certification status, request the following three documents from them.

  • Accreditation – for a healthcare provider to be accredited, they must undergo extensive training beyond their academic qualifications to enhance their abilities in their specialized fields. 
  • Board Certification – this is the most prestigious credential any medical practitioner can obtain. If your healthcare provider is board certified, they have undergone additional training after accreditation.
  • License – a license is a proof that a medical practitioner is authorized to practice their profession legally. In most cases, healthcare providers are licensed after undergoing CVO Credentialing.


When searching for a healthcare provider, it’s important to select an individual with relevant experience in their field. Primary care providers are usually the first point of contact for medical assistance, making it essential to ensure that the selected professional is suitable for the job. 

Establishing trust is crucial for the patient-caregiver relationship, and requesting their credentials can assist in building that trust. It’s advisable to choose a healthcare provider with a demonstrated track record in their area of expertise. You can also inquire about their board certifications and request references from previous patients and their employment history.