Family Medicine

Family Medicine clinicians (also known as a primary care provider) can take care of all members of your family through every stage of life. Family medicine providers get to know their patients and their health histories over many years, so they can help the family members make wise health care decisions. Family medicine providers are trained to take care of the physical, mental and emotional health of their patients. They provide preventative care, and can diagnose and treat most conditions and illnesses their patients face. When needed, they refer patients to a specialist for further medical care.

A primary care clinician provides basic (primary) care and serves as the primary caregiver for a person throughout his or her life. Your primary care provider is your first line of defense against illness. Primary care providers can diagnose and treat a wide variety of problems and conditions while helping you stay healthy and prevent disease.

A primary care provider coordinates and provides care for patients, makes referrals for specialist care (when needed), and maintains the continuity of patient care. If you become ill, your primary care provider 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.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are board-certified registered nurses with advanced medical training – a master’s degree or beyond. NPs can provide a wide range of health care services similar to those offered by a physician. They also focus on preventing disease, educating patients to live healthier lifestyles, counseling patients to make informed health care decisions, order tests, conduct physical exams and write prescriptions. PAs and NPs are an important part of Ministry’s Primary Care teams in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Emergency Care.

A physician assistant (PA) is a board-certified health care 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.