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The levels of care describe the services provided in the healthcare system. Accordingly, there are six levels of the traditional healthcare system in the US: preventive, primary, secondary, tertiary, restorative, and continuing healthcare. A nurse must understand how the healthcare industry organizes and provides services within these levels of care.

The preventive healthcare service includes tests for screening. Preventive health care services include identifying and reducing disease risk factors, improving current disease courses, and detecting disease early through screening. Some adult screening tests measure blood pressure and cholesterol, and look for cancers. It also includes pediatric screenings for hearing, vision, autism, and developmental disorders.

Primary healthcare services strive to provide and improve health for the entire population. They promote health by offering services like diagnosing and treating common diseases, managing chronic health problems, prenatal care, child care, family planning, and patient-centered home care.

A specialist delivers secondary health care after a recommendation from a primary healthcare practitioner. This necessitates more specific knowledge, expertise, or equipment than a primary care physician or nurse practitioner can offer. Specialist services include hospital emergency care, medical-surgical care, ambulatory care, outpatient surgery, hospital, and radiological procedures.

Tertiary health care is specialist consultation care typically offered upon a recommendation from a secondary consultant. They offer highly specialized care, such as intensive care, inpatient psychiatric facilities, and specialty care.

Restorative care assists patients in regaining maximum functional status and improving quality of life by promoting independence and self-care. Restorative services include sports medicine, spinal cord injury programs, home care, and rehabilitation programs such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, and orthopedic.

Continuing care refers to a range of health, personal, and social services delivered over an extended period. These services are available to those who are handicapped, have never been functionally independent, or have a terminal condition. There are long-term care services such as assisted living centers, nursing centers, and psychiatric or older-adult daycare.

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