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Healthcare Definitions
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Primary Care Physician: A family practice physician, an internal medicine physician or a pediatrician who provides a full range of healthcare services and also coordinates care in an HMO.

Specialist: A physician who has expertise in a specific medical field. Generally, specific credentials including residency training and board certification must be acquired to qualify as a specialist. There are also subspecialists, who specialize in a specific area of medical practice within a specialty, such as maternal fetal medicine, which is within the ob/gyn specialty.

Physician Assistant (PA): A medically trained professional who has 2 or more years of advanced training/education and has passed a special certification exam. The PA works under the license of a supervising physician and provides most of the same services as the physician, including physical exams, medical history evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Nurse Practitioner: A registered nurse (RN) with 2 or more years of education and clinical training in a healthcare specialty area. Nurse practitioners are licensed by the state, and may perform exams, order medications and diagnostic procedures, and talk to the patient about options and medical history, under the close supervision of a physician.

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