Authored by Revere Health

What Exactly is a Family Doctor?

June 13, 2016 | Family Medicine

What is a Family Doctor

“The clinical specialty of family practice is patient centered, evidence based, family focused, and problem oriented.” — Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington

Family physicians are a one-stop medical care shop dedicated to treating the whole person. Unlike specialists, family practitioners treat each organ and every disease in both genders of all ages. The foundation upon which family medicine is built is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship that emphasizes preventive and integrated care. Primary care doctors support your family’s health through all life cycles—birth, acute illness, chronic illness and end-of-life care.

What are the duties of a family doctor?

Family practitioners provide immunizations and screening tests, perform comprehensive wellness exams and health-risk assessments, and diagnose and treat illnesses. They analyze and evaluate data to create an individualized treatment program, which they monitor and then adapt to changing health conditions.

Family doctors provide personalized counseling to help patients maintain a healthy lifestyle. They oversee chronic health conditions, and coordinate care with other specialists when required. They collect, record and maintain patient information, including your medical history and examination results. Family doctors deliver babies, and they perform operations.

What are the schooling and training requirements for family doctors?

“Family medicine is an extremely satisfying career and an ideal specialty choice for students who like getting to know their patients as much as they like getting to know their patients’ diagnoses.” — The American Academy of Family Physicians

Once in college, an aspiring family physician completes undergraduate prerequisite courses in physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology. Some premedical students gain clinical experience by volunteering in a hospital or shadowing a physician. This makes them more attractive to medical schools.

During medical school, students complete two years of classroom instruction in the sciences, followed by two years of clinical rotations. Graduates must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination before they may practice medicine.

Primary care doctors support your family’s health through all life cycles — birth, acute illness, chronic illness and end-of-life care.

Following medical school, family practice doctors complete a three-year family practice residency that includes rotations in inpatient and outpatient settings. They receive training in several major medical areas and patient populations including pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery and community medicine. Some physicians choose to specialize in areas such as radiology, urology, ophthalmology, emergency medicine, or orthopedics.

After the family medicine residency program, graduates must pass an examination given by the American Board of Medical Specialties, for those with M.D. degrees, or the American Osteopathic Association, and for those with D.O. degrees, to become board-certified in family medicine. For the duration of their careers, periodic re-testing and accumulation of Continuing Medical Education credits are required to maintain certification and licensure.

What is the role of PAs in family medicine?

A PA, or physician assistant, is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. Although their specific duties depend on the work setting, state laws and their specialty, PAs can take your medical history, perform exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and evaluate tests and write prescriptions. Some PAs also assist in surgery.

According to the American Academy of PAs, most educational programs are approximately 26 months and require the same prerequisite courses as medical schools. PAs then complete a total of more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in:

Family medicine
Internal medicine
Obstetrics and gynecology
General surgery
Emergency medicine

Before they can practice, PAs who graduate from an accredited program must pass the PA National Certifying Exam and become licensed by the state in which they practice. PAs must complete a recertification exam every 10 years and complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years to maintain certification.

Family doctors are essential to community health. The emphasis on preventive care, patient education and personalized attention promotes higher quality health and safety in patient populations. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports, “More than 20 percent of family physicians are part of a practice comprised of physicians from different specialties.” By using a team approach, barriers to care are removed, and communication improves between patients and their medical providers.

Are you ready to partner with a family physician who you can trust to support your family’s wellness through all cycles of life? Revere Health’s Orem Family Medicine offers compassionate, patient-centered family medicine providers who are trained in a broad range of disciplines including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and geriatrics.

Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages and providing thorough and timely healthcare for the entire family throughout all stages of life.



The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.