What is a Family Physician? (MD)
Family physicians possess unique attitudes, skills and knowledge which qualify them to provide ongoing, comprehensive medical care to each member of the family. A family physician is a doctor who has received at least three years of specialty training (beyond medical school) in the broad disciplines of primary care. These include in-depth coverage of adult and pediatric medicine, preventive care and OB care. Because of their training, family physicians are uniquely qualified to serve as Primary Care Providers.
The cornerstone of family medicine is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. Your family physician is trained to provide optimal medical care by looking at the whole person, rather than focusing on just one organ system. In addition to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, your family physician provides routine health screenings and counseling on lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent illnesses before they develop.
As family physicians, we directly provide 80-90% of the medical care required by the patients we serve, but we are also trained to know when specialty care is needed. Every effort is made to communicate clearly with consulting specialists to coordinate care and minimize inconvenience to our patients. Our goal is to provide the right care by the right physician at the right time.
The physicians at Family Care Network have taken the additional step of being certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. We undergo recertification every six years to ensure that we adhere to the highest standards of medical care.
What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)?
If you’re like most people, you’ve been going to a doctor since you were born and perhaps didn’t know if you were seeing a DO (osteopathic physician) or an MD (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that there are two types of physicians in the United States.
DOs and MDs are alike in many ways:
- Both DOs and MDs are fully qualified physicians licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication.
- Applicants to both DO and MD medical colleges typically have a four-year undergraduate degree with an emphasis on scientific courses.
- Both DOs and MDs complete four years of basic medical education.
- After medical school, both DOs and MDs usually choose to practice in a specialty area of medicine, such as surgery, family practice or psychiatry, and complete a residency program (typically two to six years of additional training).
- Both DOs and MDs must pass comparable state licensing exams.
- DOs and MDs both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.
DOs bring something extra to medicine:
- Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
- DOs receive extra training in the musculolskeletal system – your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of its body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a clear understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect another.
- Some osteopathic physicians perform OMM, or osteopathic manual manipulation, which consists of gently realigning the body by using a wide range of gentle techniques to help relieve pain and structural abnormalities.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness. Nurse practitioners have advanced degrees that prepare them to focus on helping you achieve total health and prevent disease.
NPs excel at being a partner in health, providing high quality primary, acute and specialty healthcare services similar to those of a physician. Nurse practitioners prescribe medications, treat illness and administer physical exams.
Nurse practitioners can also help you stay well! With a focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and health education and counseling, they can guide patients to make smarter health and lifestyle choices. Preventive screening for diseases such as elevated cholesterol, asthma and cancer are another focus of nurse practitioners.
Patients who are seen by NPs report an extremely high level of satisfaction with the care they receive.
What is a Physician Assistant? (PA-C)
Physician Assistants are healthcare providers who are educated at medical schools, in the medical model. They are trained to diagnose and treat illness, as well as provide preventative care in partnership with a physician supervisor. The “C” indicates that a PA is certified by the National Commission of Certification of PAs. This certification requires 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years, along with passing a national recertification exam every six years to maintain that very important “C”.
As members of healthcare teams, PAs take medical histories, examine and treat patients, make diagnoses, prescribe medications, order and interpret lab work and imaging, refer to specialists, assist in surgery, counsel patients and perform minor procedures. PAs practice in a wide variety of specialties and settings. PAs often have many primary care patients who they care for over many years, who never meet the supervising physician. However, for more complicated patients a PA may consult with a physician or even ask the physician to assume care if it is outside of the PA’s scope of practice and training.