Choosing a primary care physician is an important decision. Some wonder, “With all the different kinds of healthcare providers practicing today, does my PCP need to be an MD?” Let’s explore primary care and the differences between a medical doctor, or MD, and the second most common kind of PCP–the osteopathic physician or DO.
Responsibilities of The Primary Care Physician
- Acute injury and disease assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
- Management of chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes
- Preventive care to include annual physicals and risk assessment, and screenings for metabolic disorders, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, mental health problems, and more
- Education and counseling on fitness, nutrition, home safety and more
- Administration of routine vaccines
- Keeping the paperless medical record (chart)
- Prescribing medications and therapies
- Follow-up care after a trip to the ER, hospitalization, or surgery
- Pre-operative assessments
- Assessment for and referral to specialty care, such as physical therapy, cardiology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, and other medical specialties and services
- Setting long-term health goals, such as smoking cessation, dietary changes to lose weight and improve health, exercise routines, and others
Your primary care physician should be the health care provider who knows you, your health needs, your medical history, and your personality best. So, it’s important to select a practitioner who is readily available to meet your needs and whose communication style fits with yours. Also, choose a PCP near your home or workplace whose office hours match your availability as much as possible.
Should You Have an MD or DO as Your PCP?
Basically, the choice is yours. Both kinds of physicians are qualified to carry out primary care duties.
An MD, or medical doctor, has four years of traditional medical school plus at least three to four years of residency or hands-on training in a hospital setting. A DO, or doctor of osteopathy also has four years of medical school and three to four years of resident training. Both providers sit for the same kind of licensing examinations.
However, the philosophy of osteopathic medicine is different from traditional medical care in that osteopathy emphasizes symptom prevention, and a whole-person approach, i.e., the patient is composed of body, mind, and spirit. In addition, a DO receives training in osteopathic manipulation. This physician works on joints and muscles through manual pressure, massage, and stretching techniques to optimize alignment, function, flexibility, circulation, and more.
The Primary Care Physician’s Support Staff
Whether you choose an MD or a DO as your primary care physician, you likely will encounter other kinds of professionals involved in your preventive care, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of chronic and acute diseases, conditions, and injuries. These professionals comprise a primary care team which may include:
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician’s assistants
- Medical assistants
- Registered nurses
- Licensed practical nurses
These people work under the supervision of the primary care physician who heads their team. They have both dependent and independent functions in the assessment and care of patients. Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants have advanced training which allows them to prescribe medications, order tests, and more.
MDs and DOs in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL
To access the widest range of health care services in Sarasota and Manatee Counties in the state of Florida, contact Intercoastal Medical Group. We desire to be your medical home as we provide primary care through both MDs and DOs and their professional team.
Since we are a multispecialty medical group, we have cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, gastroenterologists, and more on staff throughout our 10 locations. So, coordinated, comprehensive care is the hallmark of all we do.