What does a Primary Care Physician do?

Learn all about Primary Care Physician duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Primary Care Physician.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

A primary care physician (PCP) is a doctor who provides general medical care for common illnesses and health issues. A PCP may be a family doctor, a pediatrician, or an internist.

Primary Care Physician job duties include:

  • Diagnose and treat common medical conditions such as infections, injuries, and chronic diseases
  • Prescribe medications and provide guidance on their use
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests such as blood work and X-rays
  • Develop treatment plans and coordinate care with other providers
  • Provide preventive care services such as immunizations and screenings
  • Educate patients on healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust treatments as needed
  • Keep detailed medical records
  • Refer patients to specialists as needed
  • Provide emergency care in life-threatening situations

Primary Care Physician Job Requirements

A primary care physician (PCP) is a doctor who provides general medical care for common ailments and refers patients to specialists when necessary. PCPs are usually the first point of contact for patients seeking medical care. They are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, from the common cold to more serious diseases.

Most PCPs have completed at least four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, and three years of residency training. In addition, they must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Some states also require PCPs to pass a board certification exam.

PCPs typically work in private practices, clinics, or hospitals. They may also work for government agencies or insurance companies. Some PCPs choose to specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as pediatrics or geriatrics.

Primary Care Physician Skills

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Patience
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Organization
  • Multi-tasking
  • Stress management
  • Flexibility

Related: Top Primary Care Physician Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Primary Care Physician

A Primary Care Physician (PCP) is a medical doctor who provides general health care for patients of all ages. A PCP may be a family doctor, a pediatrician, or an internist. A PCP is usually the first doctor a patient sees when they are sick or injured. The PCP will then refer the patient to a specialist if needed.

To become a PCP, you must first complete four years of undergraduate school and earn a bachelor’s degree. Then, you must attend four years of medical school and earn a Medical Doctor (MD) degree. After medical school, you will need to complete a three-year residency program in primary care. Once you have completed your residency, you will need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

The best way to prepare for a career as a PCP is to take courses in biology and chemistry in undergraduate school. It is also important to volunteer or shadow doctors in order to see what the day-to-day life of a physician is like. In medical school, it is important to focus on coursework related to primary care medicine. During your residency, you will gain hands-on experience caring for patients in a variety of settings.

A career as a PCP can be very rewarding. You will have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with your patients and their families. You will also be able to make a difference in your community by providing high-quality health care services.

Related: Primary Care Physician Resume Example

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