Choosing a primary care physician is an important decision. You need a reliable, skilled expert you can trust to care for you and your family, both now and in the years to come.

Primary care physicians are either medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs). Both are well-trained in human anatomy, specializing in internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics. They are licensed to diagnose, treat, advise and prescribe for any medical disease or condition. The main difference separating the two specialties being that osteopathic physicians have up to 500 additional hours in studying hands-on medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

A physician who works for you

Before you choose your primary care doctor, be sure you are completely comfortable with him/her evaluating your health and giving you medical advice. The more time you spend with a primary care doctor over the years, a rapport develops. This close relationship allows your physician to make better evaluations on your well-being during any given office visit, since he/she has assessed your health over an extended period of time, years and possibly even decades. Visiting a different primary care physician for the first time, however, makes it more challenging for the doctor to gauge your condition without having a long-term perspective on your health and lifestyle.

When choosing the right primary care physician, keep some of these questions in mind:

  • Is it easy to reach the provider? Is the staff friendly?
  • Are the office hours and location convenient for me?
  • Does this physician concentrate on my needs, or refer me to specialists for more focused care?
  • Does this provider encourage me to participate in my care?

Learn more about choosing a primary care provider at our online Health Library.

Types of primary care physicians

Primary care providers offer different services and areas of specialization. Your specific medical needs and stage of life will help you choose where to begin. Types of primary care providers include:

  • Pediatricians – Physicians dedicated to treating newborns, infants, children and adolescents up to age 18
  • Internists – Doctors treating adults, including seniors
  • Family Practice – Providers who treat patients of all ages, from babies to seniors; family practice providers can treat your entire family
  • Obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) – Physicians who treat women of all ages, especially those of childbearing age
  • Gerontologists – Doctors caring for seniors' medical needs

Need Help Finding the Right Doctor?

Reston Hospital Center works closely with a number of primary care providers throughout Northern Virginia. We are happy to help you find a provider who meets your needs.

Our free Consult-A-Nurse® referral service can help you find the doctor who best fits the needs of you and your family, schedule an appointment with that doctor and register for health-related classes and events at Reston Hospital Center

The Consult-A-Nurse® team is available 24/7 to help answer any healthcare questions you might have. They can be reached at (877) 689-3627 (DOCS)