What Are the Different Types of Primary Health Care Programs?

Erik J.J. Goserud

The term primary health care programs is rather broad and could describe a program on the clinician side or the patient side. On the clinician side, this series of words most typically refers to educational or training programs. On the patient end of things, primary health care programs could be insurance-related plans or specific recovery plans for a primary health care ailment.

A medical assistant taking a patient's history.
A medical assistant taking a patient's history.

More often than not, primary health care programs are descriptive of educational ways to work in primary care. There are many different roles one can fill in this field. There are a myriad of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff needed to provide health care to those in need. Getting involved in some capacity requires training, though, due to the need for skills and knowledge when dealing with a person's health.

After obtaining a high school diploma, if a person wishes to get into primary health care, he or she should review a few different program options. As a nurse or medical assistant, general programs with specialized training will suffice. These types of positions are great due to their flexibility of specialty. Nurses can leave a department they do not enjoy or one that does not ideally suit them in order to find a better fit. Similarly, medical assistants can also hop from specialty to specialty.

This makes finding a program much easier. Obtaining a generalized degree then gearing some experience toward a specialty of choice puts a person in position to work in that area. For advanced clinicians, especially health care providers like doctors, this is much different. Doctors are usually trained to be great at one thing, and in the case of primary care, this needs to be their bread and butter.

Primary health care programs for doctors, due to the need for specialty, usually require residencies after graduation from medical school. These residencies are basically training periods in which a doctor puts his or her skills into practice under the supervision of an experienced provider. Residencies take general medical knowledge and create specified skill sets out of it. They act to turn a medical student into a primary care physician, surgeon, pediatrician, or whatever other specialty a person may desire to pursue.

Finding the best primary health care programs can be overwhelming for an aspiring health care worker. Cost, academic ability, and time frame are all significant factors to consider before committing to a particular program or position within primary care. Primary health care is also a very stressful and difficult environment to work in, so shadowing a health care worker can help shed light on what the profession is really like.

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