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Understanding Our Medical Professionals: Primary Care
From MDs and DOs, to PA-Cs and ARNPs, understanding the difference may feel confusing. To help you, we’ve included a list of medical professionals. All of the providers listed below conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, and can prescribe medication.
Physician (MD and DO)
There are two types of licensed physicians: Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). Both attend four years of medical school, in addition to a residency program ranging from three to seven years. Either type of physician can go on to specialize in a certain area of medicine. A DO’s training has focus on the muscular and skeletal systems to treat problems throughout the body. An MD is the most common type of degree earned by doctors who practice medicine in the United States.
Advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP)
An advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) is a registered nurse who has completed advanced education and training. ARNPs generally take a team approach in treating patients, and can specialize in various areas of medicine, which may include family medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics.
Physician assistant (PA-C)
A certified physician assistant (PA-C) is a health care professional licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. A PA-C receives advanced education and training, and may choose from a variety of medical specialties in which to practice medicine.