Primary care physicians are the starting point for many patients seeking health care and they are advocates for the patient in coordinating the use of the entire health care system to benefit their particular needs. Practicing in private offices, community health centers, and hospitals, they diagnose and treat common illnesses and spot minor health problems before they become serious ones. 

In addition to treating health problems as they arise, they offer preventive services such as flu shots, cancer screening, and counseling on diet and smoking, and play an important role in helping to manage the care of patients with chronic health conditions.