How to Become a Primary Care Physician

Primary Care Physicians are medical doctors who provide generalized and comprehensive health care services to patients.

Primary Care Physicians may see patients in differing states of health and may provide preventative and injury or illness related health care to individuals.

Primary Care Physicians perform observations, diagnose and treat patients from a variety of health care settings.

For example, Physicians may work from clinics, private practices, inpatient, offices, critical care, long term care or home care.

Education Requirements to Become a Primary Care Physician

Individuals who want to become a Primary Care Physician will need several years of education, complete a residency and gain clinical experience in order to pursue a career in this field.

In addition, individuals must pass a rigorous licensing exam in order to practice medicine.

Students transitioning from high school to a bachelor’s program to become a Primary Care Physician will need to focus their 4 year college career in a science related field.

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Although not a requirement to apply for medical school, some common majors may include Biology, pre-med or Chemistry.

After graduating from a 4 year college in Biology, pre-med or a science related curriculum, individuals who want to become a Primary Care Physician must take and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to apply for and enter a medical school program.

During medical school, individuals will complete their curriculum in a classroom setting or working hands on in a laboratory setting.

Individuals will take classes in Biology, Psychology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and medical ethics.

Medical school will also provide individuals with clinical experience in either a hospital or clinical setting.

Through rotations, individuals will learn how to diagnose and treat a variety of disorders or illnesses in pediatrics, gynecology, internal medicine, family practice or obstetrics.

Individuals who want to become a Primary Care Physician will then need to complete a residency lasting 3 to 8 years.

After completing a Bachelor’s, at least 4 years of medical school and a residency, individuals may then seek a medical license by taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to practice medicine.

Please visit USMLE for more information regarding the licensing exam, practice tests and frequently asked questions about the exam.

Primary Care Physician Job Description

Primary Care Physicians may be the first point of contact for many patients.

These professionals may see patients in several different stages of health including seeing them for the following purposes:

  • Counseling patients in regards to treatment
  • Preventative measures
  • Educating patients
  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Maintaining health
  • Preventing injuries
  • Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses
  • Diagnosing and treating chronic illnesses

As the list of common tasks shows, Primary Care Physicians have an extensive background in determining the right type of health care an individual needs.

With the help of clinical or hospital staff, a Primary Care Physician will make rounds to see clients, interview them in regards to symptoms, take basic tests such as blood pressure and pulse, observe injuries or any visual concerns the patient has, diagnose and provide treatment to a client.

Primary Care Physicians will also order further testing and refer to specialized professionals or doctors to perform further tests or exams.

For example, a Primary Care Physician would order x-rays or blood tests to help them provide more extensive health care.

Primary Care Physician Salary and Career Path

Primary Care Physicians are some of the highest paid professionals amongst all occupations.

The median annual income for these professionals was approximately $207,117 in 2012.

Exact wages will depend on level of experience, whether a Primary Care Physician owns their own practice, number of clients and reputation.

The job outlook for Primary Care Physicians and other professionals in the health care field looks promising.

Job opportunities for Physicians and Surgeons as a whole are expected to grow by 18 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is related to health care expansion and the growing aging baby boomer population.

Primary Care Physicians are licensed professionals that provide generalized health care services to patients.

They treat patients in a comprehensive manner assuring their overall wellbeing is doing well.

This profession, as well as other health care fields are expected to grow fast through 2022 creating plenty of opportunities for individuals interested in this career path.

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