types of primary care providers

Primary Care Doctors

If your goal is to find the best primary care physicians for you and your family, you are already on the right path. Patients with a primary care provider (PCP) have better management of chronic diseases, lower overall healthcare costs, and a higher level of satisfaction with their healthcare, according to the Journal of Health Affairs.

For optimal health, every person should find the best primary care doctors for their needs and use them as their "medical home" – even children, who should be seeing a pediatrician or family doctor. Types of primary care providers can vary from doctors specializing in internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics, but they all help coordinate patient care both when you’re sick and when you just need a check-up. These types of primary care providers are meant to be your long-term resource for day-to-day healthcare needs.

Which Type of Primary Care Physician is Right for You?

The main types of primary care providers include:

Internal Medicine

Can an internal medicine doctor be a primary care physician? These are physicians who provide long-term, comprehensive care in the office and the hospital, managing both common and complex illnesses of adolescents, adults and the elderly. Also called internists, these physicians are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and infections, as well as diseases affecting the heart; blood; kidneys; joints; and digestive, respiratory and vascular systems.

Internal medicine doctors are also trained in the essentials of primary care internal medicine, which incorporates an understanding of disease prevention; wellness; substance abuse; mental health; and effective treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.

Family Medicine

A family medicine physician is concerned with the total healthcare of the individual and the family and is trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments in patients of all ages. A family doctor's training includes internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and geriatrics. Among these family doctors, special emphasis is placed on prevention and the primary care of entire families, using consultations and community resources when appropriate.


A pediatrician is concerned with the physical, emotional and social health of children from birth to young adulthood. Care encompasses a broad spectrum of health services ranging from preventive healthcare to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic diseases. A pediatrician deals with biological, social and environmental influences on the developing child.

Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner is a nurse who is qualified to treat certain medical conditions without the direct supervision of a doctor. All NPs must complete a master's or doctoral degree program, and have advanced clinical training beyond their initial professional registered nurse preparation. Many patients choose to see a nurse practitioner in place of a physician.

What Makes Firelands Physician Group Primary Care Different

Patient-Centered Care for All Stages of Life

Finding a primary care doctor near you is easier than you think – we have 11 primary care offices located throughout Erie, Huron, Lorain and Ottawa counties. In addition to this, all of our primary care providers in Sandusky, Norwalk, Berlin Heights, Castalia, Port Clinton, Bellevue and nearby value the doctor-patient relationship – we know that by developing a relationship with our patients, we are becoming a “healthcare team” with you at the center of your care. We are here to be your medical home.

That’s where our Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition comes into play. All 11 of Firelands Physician Group’s primary care practices are recognized Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Homes with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This is the highest level NCQA awards to primary care provider practices for providing superior care to patients in a team-based approach.

What is a Patient-Centered Medical Home?

A Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a team approach to your healthcare, led by your primary care provider. It provides a healthcare setting designed to improve coordination of care between patients, their primary care providers and, when appropriate, the patients’ families.

What is the patient’s role on the PCMH team?

PCMH allows you to:types of primary care providers near me

  • Take an active role in your healthcare
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand something
  • Follow the plan you and your PCMH have created that is best for your health
  • Provide us with a list of all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements.
  • Contact us as soon as possible if you go to the emergency room or self-refer to a specialist
  • Let other providers know who your primary care provider is
  • Keep scheduled appointments or call to reschedule as soon as possible

What is Firelands Physician Group’s role on the PCMH team?

Our role is to:

  • Provide a comfortable, confidential environment for you to talk about your healthcare concerns
  • Coordinate your healthcare with all members of your healthcare team, including specialists
  • Respond to you in a timely manner with test results and answer any questions you may have
  • Keep you up to date on necessary vaccines and preventative screenings
  • Discuss, create and help you decide on a treatment plan that is best for your health needs
  • Communicate clearly so that you understand any health issues you may be having as well as your options

How to Choose a New Primary Care Doctor

Whether you go with a family medicine doctor, an internal medicine doctor, a pediatrician, or a nurse practitioner, you want to get the process right. The last thing you want is to leave your first appointment with your primary care provider in Norwalk, Sandusky, Bellevue, Port Clinton or neraby feeling like they're not the right fit for you.

SDr. Widmero, how can you make sure this doesn't happen?

First, do your research. Search for a list of primary care physicians by location (for example, in Norwalk, Sandusky, Castalia, Port Clinton, Vermilion, Bellevue, Berlin Heights, etc.) and check out their credentials, biography (both personal and professional, if available), and read as much about them as you can. Sometimes hospitals conduct interviews with their physicians to help patients get a glimpse of them on social media, blogs, or other digital properties. 

Ask these questions as you conduct your research:

  • Is this doctor board certified?
  • What is their specialty? What are their special interests?
  • How long have they been a primary care physician?
  • What is their opinion on the patient-physician relationship? What is their care philosophy?

Next, don't be afraid to call the doctor's office and speak to a receptionist. You may have some important questions they can answer prior to scheduling an appointment, such as:

  • Am I able to call this physician directly in case of an emergency?
  • How does the office handle emergencies if the doctor can't be reached?
  • How long does it usually take to get in for an appointment after calling?
  • If necessary, are same-day appointments available?
  • Can I bring a friend or family member with me to my appointment?
  • Is this a group practice? Or can I expect to see my doctor every time I visit?

Finally, after you arrive to your appointment and meet your new primary care doctor for the first time, you are encouraged to ask questions to get to know your doctor better. This will be your best gauge as to whether this doctor is right for you - not just for their medical expertise, but their personality, as well.

  • How would you describe your communication style?
  • Do you encourage your patients to ask questions and express their opinions?
  • Am I able to call or email you with non-emergency questions? If so, how long should I expect to wait for a response?
  • If you are unavailable, whom should I expect to see?
  • Do you work with a certain hospital?
  • Do you provide post-visit reports that summarize what occurred, what was discussed, and what actions need to be taken after the visit?

As you examine the types of primary care providers and their services, we will do our best to answer any questions you may have. Find the right primary care provider online, or call 419-557-5591, today.

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