Primary care is the routine (regular) health care your child gets from a doctor or nurse. The goal of primary care is to keep your child as healthy as possible. This is done by preventing health problems or by treating them right away.

There is a recommended schedule for regular check-ups and immunizations. You and your child's primary care provider (PCP) may decide that more frequent visits are a good idea for your child.

What is a Primary Care Provider (PCP)?

A PCP May Be A:

  • Pediatrician - a doctor who cares for children and adolescents

  • Family physician - a doctor who cares for people of all ages

  • Specialty physician - a doctor who cares for people with special conditions

  • Nurse practitioner - a specially trained nurse who cares for children or whole families

  • Physician's Assistant - a health care provider who cares for people of all ages and works under a doctor's supervision

Your Child's PCP Should

  • Know about your child's overall health, growth, and development

  • Provide regular check-ups, immunizations, and tests

  • Give you suggestions for keeping your child healthy

  • Treat your child when he or she is sick

  • Refer your child to specialists, benefits, or services

  • Help you coordinate care with specialists and other providers

  • Help connect you with community resources

  • Provide telephone access for medical advice and emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • Answer your questions-and your child's questions-about health and medical care

Tip: Remember: your child's PCP is the doctor or nurse you choose in your health plan.

Source: Adapted from Growing Up Healthy. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 1998.