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Types of Providers

A healthcare provider is a person that provides a healthcare service to you. You're probably most familiar with your primary care physician (PCP) or the specialist you saw when you needed specific care. But there are many different types of healthcare providers.

At Lompoc Health, we provide a wide variety of health care professionals. This helps to ensure that we always have a provider to fit your healthcare needs. But understanding the difference between the different types of providers can be a tad confusing.

Below we have explained the different providers you may encounter, their qualifications (also c


You probably just call them doctors. Physicians have the most demanding education and training requirements. They typically need a bachelor's degree followed by a degree from a four-year medical school and, depending on their specialty, three to seven years of additional training. Credentials typically are:

  • MD: Doctor of Medicine.
    The most common educational path completed by physicians. Focused on using medications to treat illnesses that are usually diagnosed by tests or procedures
  • DO: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
    Equivalent to an MD. DOs complete additional hands-on training on Osteopathic Manual Therapy (OMT).
  • MBBS: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.
    An international medical degree equivalent to an MD in the US.
  • FACS: Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
    FACSs have passed a comprehensive evaluation of their surgical training and skills; they also have demonstrated their commitment to high standards of ethical conduct.
  • DABOM: Diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
  • MPH: Master of Public Health.
    An education in protecting and improving the health of entire populations.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists, are registered nurses who have completed a master's or doctoral degree program, had advanced clinical training, and received board certification in their specialty. Credentials typically are:

  • RN: Registered Nurse.
    RNs are involved in all aspects of patient care and works in one of many specialties. At least an associate degree is required.
  • MSN: Master of Science in Nursing.
  • MPH: Master of Public Health.
    An education in protecting and improving the health of entire populations.
  • NP: Nurse Practitioner.
    Although they can be generalists, NPs typically choose a specialty, such as pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, or women's health.
  • FNP: Family Nurse Practitioner.
    FNPs see patients throughout their lifespan. They most commonly work with families, treating parents and children of all ages.
  • PNP: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
    Childhood specialists who know how to diagnose, assess, and treat a range of illnesses and conditions that affect infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • DNP: Doctor of Nursing Practice.
    The highest level of practice-focused nursing degrees.

Physician Assistants

PAs are medical providers who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient's principal healthcare provider. With thousands of hours of medical training, PAs are versatile and collaborative. Physician assistants are sometimes confused with nurse practitioners because their roles can be similar. Credentials typically are:

  • PA-C: Certified Physician Assistant.
  • MPAS: Master of Physician Assistant Studies.
  • MPH: Master of Public Health.
    An education in protecting and improving the health of entire populations.

Behavioral Health Professionals

  • LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
    LMFTs are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems.
  • MACP: Master of Counseling Psychology.
    Focused primarily on the overall health and well-being of the client. Focused on working with healthy populations who may have life difficulties rather than those with severe mental illness.
  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
    LCSWs work in a wide variety of settings to provide emotional support, mental health evaluations, therapy, and case management services to people experiencing psychological, emotional, medical, social, or familial challenges.