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Health Services: Definition, Types & Providers

Lesson Transcript
Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

Expert Contributor
Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education. He has taught high school chemistry and physics for 14 years.

Health services refer to the patient care provided by medical professionals, health care personnel, and health care organizations. Explore the types of health services and find out different types of healthcare services providers. Updated: 01/21/2022

So Many Options

Gary is a twenty-year-old man who is interested in beginning a career in the medical field. He is meeting with a guidance counselor at the community college where he is taking prerequisite courses. Gary is asking the counselor what his options are if he wants to pursue some kind of direct patient care position that doesn't require high costs and many years of schooling. The counselor begins to explain to Gary the different types of health services.

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  • 0:04 So Many Options
  • 0:30 What Are Health Services?
  • 1:31 Types of Services
  • 2:39 Types of Providers
  • 5:22 Lesson Summary
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What Are Health Services?

Health services consist of medical professionals, organizations, and ancillary health care workers who provide medical care to those in need. Health services serve patients, families, communities, and populations. They cover emergency, preventative, rehabilitative, long-term, hospital, diagnostic, primary, palliative, and home care. These services are centered around making health care accessible, high quality, and patient-centered. Many different types of care and providers are necessary in order to offer successful health services.

Gary didn't realize how many health services options have been around him. He usually uses his primary care physician, who is a medical doctor, for his medical needs. He's a young and healthy man, so he hasn't had to deal with other, more involved health services. However, he does have a grandmother in a long-term care facility that he visits every couple of weeks. The guidance counselor continues explaining the different types of health services that are available.

Types of Services

Health services cover many different types of medical issues. Many people think of primary care, outpatient care, and emergency care when they need an illness managed or are generally not feeling well. However, there are more health services that are dedicated to certain illnesses or issues. These health services include:

  • Mental health care
  • Dental care
  • Laboratory and diagnostic care
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Preventative care
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Nutritional support
  • Pharmaceutical care
  • Transportation
  • Prenatal care

Health services offer a range of options.
Health services offer a range of options and can be collaborative

Not everyone will need each health service, while others will need several in order to have their health care needs met. Gary begins thinking about what services he has used in the past. He uses his primary care physician, has been to an outpatient urgent care walk-in center, the emergency room, and the dentist. He understands why the other health care services are also important.

Now Gary is really interested to see what he can do in the health services field. He asks his counselor what type of training college can offer him.

Types of Providers

There are many different types of health services providers, such as primary care providers, nurses, specialists, and pharmacists.

Primary care providers include:

  • Generalists, such as medical doctors (MD) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO), who focus on family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics
  • Obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYN), who focus on pregnancy, reproductive health, and prenatal care
  • Physician assistants (PA), who work in a partnership with an MD or DO
  • Nurse practitioners (NP), who work as primary care providers and can prescribe medication. They focus on reproductive health, family medicine (FNP), adult care (ANP), pediatrics (PNP), or geriatrics (GNP).

Other nurses include:

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Additional Activities

Director of Health Care Services Role Play

In this lesson, we learned about all of the different medical needs of a population of people and the providers of medical care in an organized health care system. In this lesson extension, you are going to role play as a a director of health care services. Let's look at several medical-based scenarios.


  1. A child has a fever and has red, itchy bumps on the skin and lacks an appetite.
  2. A child has been playing in the grass and is sneezing.
  3. A 75 year old male slipped in the kitchen and hit his head on the edge of the counter. He has a gash in his head and is bleeding a lot.
  4. A 20 year old female has stopped eating and has been stealing things to get money to purchase illegal drugs.
  5. A 40 year old male is 50 pounds overweight and wishes to lose weight.
  6. A pregnant woman is about 6 weeks away from the baby's due date. She is experiencing contractions and pain in her legs.


Pretend you work for a medical advice phone line. On the first hour of your shift, you receive a call for each of the scenarios above. Direct them to the type of medical care they need and what medical professional they would need to provide treatment. For example, if a child has a earache with a fever you would suggest they visit a medical care facility and see a pediatric MD or DO. Refer back to the lesson for the lists of types of services and types of providers that will fit the needs of the patients.

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