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What Are the Different Types of Primary Care for Women?

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  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Primary care for women includes visits to a family doctor or an internist as well as appointments to see an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN). People who are not doctors, such as nurse practitioners and physician's assistants, may also be able to provide primary care for women. While some women choose to see a separate primary care provider who is certified in family medicine or internal medicine, some decide to use their OB/GYN as a primary care physician.

The purpose of primary care for women is to monitor a woman's health to help prevent illnesses. A primary care provider can also treat sickness such as a the flu or another disease by prescribing medication. Some primary care providers monitor a woman's chronic illness or work with a doctor who specializes in that illness.

Although an OB-GYN is not technically a primary care provider for women, some women elect to use their OB-GYN as such. Regular pelvic examinations and other gynecological screenings are important for women's health. A woman may decide to use her OB-GYN as a primary care doctor because she sees that physician regularly. Most OB-GYN doctors are not trained in primary care, however, and some prefer that a woman find a separate primary care provider.

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A family doctor can provide primary care for women as well. Family medicine doctors train in caring for the entire family, from children to older adults. They may be able to deliver babies as well, though they are not as involved or specialized as an obstetrician.

Unlike a family doctor, an internist is trained only in treating illnesses in adults, not children. Some internal medicine doctors specialize in one area of the body, while others are general practitioners. As part of primary care for women, an internist can help a patient prevent chronic illness as well as treat any illnesses that develop. Usually, internal medicine doctors are not trained to deal with pregnancy or reproductive health problems.

Some women may not even see a doctor as a primary care provider. Other options include seeing a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant for primary care. A nurse practitioner has more training than a registered nurse. She can provide care under the supervision of a doctor and is able to perform tests and screenings, including a PAP smear. In some cases, he or she can prescribe medications. Usually, physician's assistants have a bachelor's or master's degree. They can provide care under supervision, perform tests, and prescribe medications.

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