What Is A PCP and Why Do I Need One?

A primary care provider, or PCP, is your main point of contact for health care in non-emergency situations. Think of this type of health care provider as the quarterback of your entire health care team, the central point person whose role it is to coordinate your overall patient care, treatment, and education.

Overall, your PCP is key to:

  • Providing preventive care and guidance on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
  • Diagnosing and treating acute common medical conditions, such as cold, flu, infections, etc.
  • Treatment and management of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Determining the severity of your medical problems, so he or she can direct you to the most appropriate care provider.
  • Referring you to medical specialists when conditions require more targeted treatment.

In addition, a PCP ensures prescribed medications will not adversely affect other medications or supplements you may already be taking. Over time, your PCP learns your health history and what is most important to you and your long-term wellness. This high-level oversight ensures all of the treatments, medications, therapies, and recommendations from various providers are as effective as possible.

Even if you are relatively healthy right now, things can and do change. This is especially true of millennials (the segment of the population born between the early ’80s and the early 2000s), who are in the perfect position to establish health and wellness baselines with a dedicated primary care provider.

PCPs are usually physicians; however, physician assistants and nurse practitioners (collectively referred to as advanced practice providers) who work under a qualified physician can also be your PCP. There are also different types of primary care physicians, some of which you may need at different points in your life, depending on your health care needs.

This chart identifies the different types of primary care physicians and can help you pinpoint which can help you most, depending on your health care needs.

primary care physician chart

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Request an Appointment

Emory HealthConnection is where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Know Where to Go

Knowing where to go when you’re ill makes a big difference. But it can get confusing. Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.

Talk to Our Nurses

If you’re not sure if a trip to the ER is needed, call your family doctor or the Emory HealthConnection, where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

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