What Is Primary Care?A primary care physician provides basic (primary) care and serves as the primary caregiver for a person throughout his or her life. Your primary care physician is your personal doctor and your first line of defense against illness. Primary care physicians can diagnose and treat a wide variety of problems and conditions while helping you stay healthy and prevent disease.
A primary care physician coordinates and provides care for patients, makes referrals for specialist care (when needed), and maintain the continuity of patient care. If you become ill, your primary care physician is your best ally, because he or she knows you and can develop an effective treatment plan.
Primary care physicians may be a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Both types of physicians attend four years of medical school followed by three to four years of training in their specialty. They are board-certified in the primary care specialty of their choosing.
Primary care physicians at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin offer exceptional care in many convenient locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Primary Care Physicians
Family MedicineA family doctor can take care of all members of your family through every stage of life. Family medicine doctors get to know their patients and their health histories over many years, so they can help the family members make wise healthcare decisions. Family doctors are trained to take care of the physical, mental and emotional health of their patients. They provide preventive care and can diagnose and treat most conditions and illnesses their patients may face. When needed, they refer their patients to a Froedtert & The Medical College specialist for further medical care. Many family medicine doctors also practice obstetrics and are trained to care for women during an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. Our family medicine physicians are board-certified in family medicine.
Internal MedicineInternal medicine physicians, sometimes called internists, specialize in caring for adults. They provide preventive care as well and treat a wide range of adult disorders, from common illnesses to rare conditions. They are specially trained to diagnose difficult problems, manage chronic disease and help patients who may be dealing with many conditions at once. If their patients require surgery or further specialty care, internal medicine physicians coordinate the care, staying in touch with other physicians and specialists involved. They also focus on patients’ overall physical and emotional wellness and preventive care. Our internists are board-certified in internal medicine.
PediatricsPediatricians specialize in treating children including infants, young children and adolescents. They are dedicated to keeping children healthy physically, mentally and emotionally through all stages of a child’s life. They provide preventive care as well as advice and support for parents on raising healthy children. Pediatricians diagnose and treat everything from common illnesses to acute, chronic and complex conditions. Our pediatricians are board-certified in pediatrics.
Internal Medicine and PediatricsSome physicians are double board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. These physicians, sometimes called “Med-Peds,” have pursued additional training to specialize in preventive care and the treatment of common and complex disease in both children and adults. Med-peds physicians care for entire families — from newborns to grandparents.
Obstetrics and GynecologyObstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) is a medical and surgical specialty that manages every aspect of female reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetrics refers to the management of childbirth, from routine to high-risk cases. Gynecology refers to the specialized treatment of disorders and concerns involving the female reproductive system. This includes menstrual disorders, menopause, infectious diseases, abnormal development of reproductive organs, disturbances of sex hormones, benign and malignant female reproductive tumors, and contraception. These two fields are closely linked, and most physicians in this specialty practice in both obstetrics and gynecology. Our OB/GYN doctors are board-certified by The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Other Types of Primary Care Providers
Physician AssistantsA physician assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who practices medicine under the supervision of a physician. PAs can diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. They can order tests, conduct physical exams, write prescriptions, assist with surgery and perform other duties. PAs generally have two years of medical education beyond their four-year undergraduate degree. All of our physician assistants are board-certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and carry the title PA-C.
Nurse PractitionersNurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses with advanced medical training — a master’s degree or beyond. NPs can provide a wide range of healthcare services similar to those offered by a physician. They also focus on preventing disease, educating patients to live healthier lifestyles and counseling patients to make informed healthcare decisions. All of our nurse practitioners are board-certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center and carry the title of APNP.
Primary Care Providers in TrainingAs part of the academic mission of The Medical College of Wisconsin, some of our primary care providers are actively involved in teaching the next generation of primary care physicians. These include:
Resident PhysiciansResident physicians have graduated from four years of medical school and are completing further education and training in a primary care field as part of becoming board-certified in their specialty. Residents, who are MDs or DOs, work alongside a board-certified primary care physician. Our primary care residents are paired with a primary care physician and work together on a weekly basis for the duration of their residency training, which may last for three to four years. Residents enjoy developing relationships with patients as they provide care for them over time.
Medical StudentsMedical students are enrolled in a four-year program at The Medical College of Wisconsin and are working towards their MD degree. The medical students in our clinics are excited to work with our primary care team to gain clinical experience and knowledge. All medical students are fully supervised by a board-certified primary care physician.
Author: Joan Pike
Last Review Date: Sept. 1, 2009
For patients in our primary care offices, My Chart® connects you to your personal health information and electronic medical record.