Family medicine is a branch of medicine that does not have a specialisation, but provides a complete range of healthcare services to patients of all ages, from infants to senior citizens. Family doctors are medical practitioners who provide personalised care for their patients and family, building long-term relationships with the patients.
The difference between family medicine and internal medicine is that doctors catering to the latter specialise in a particular field, whereas family medicine doctors deal with the overall well-being of a patient. Internal medicine focuses on exclusively treating adult patients, whereas family medicine focuses on treating patients in different age groups. Internal medicine doctors mostly work in hospitals, whereas family doctors work in outpatient settings. Family medicine physicians can refer a patient to an internal medicine doctor after performing an initial diagnosis.
What Does a Family Medicine Doctor Do?
Family doctors are specially trained in providing long-term, comprehensive medical care to each member of a family. A family physician provides medical care by dealing with the patient as a whole, and not just one organ system. A family medicine specialist’s job description includes diagnosing and treating acute and chronic medical conditions, as well as providing comprehensive wellness checkups and recommending lifestyle changes needed to prevent the illness. They also refer the patient to a specialist if required, and can administer vaccinations and injections, help with birthing, treat fractures, and sometimes even be required to perform surgeries.
Family medicine specialists go through four years of medical school and then further specialise in the broad disciplines of primary care for an additional three years. Primary care includes adult and pediatric medicine, preventative care, emergency medicine and more. These doctors are uniquely qualified to serve as Primary Care Providers. Family medicine residents receive training in six major medical areas: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine. They have the skills to provide inpatient and outpatient care.
How to Become a Family Doctor?
The road to becoming a family doctor is the same as any other medical specialty, which is four years of pre-med, followed by four years of medical school, and then three more years of residency training. Most family medicine residencies involve diagnosing and treating hospital patients under the supervision of experienced senior doctors. Family medicine residents have to do clinical rotations in areas including critical care, pediatrics, dermatology, sports medicine and cardiology.
What You Need to Know About Family Medicine
Family doctors are primary care physicians who treat patients of all ages. They are responsible for treating several common ailments and injuries. Family medicine physicians can refer patients to specialists if a treatment beyond their expertise is required. Family doctors deliver diagnoses, advise patients on a course of treatment, prescribe medications, administer vaccinations, perform surgeries and are, in short, responsible for the general health of a patient. While some family doctors may choose to undergo additional training in subspecialty areas, most of them have training in general outpatient care.
The working hours for family doctors are usually in sync with regular business hours. The road to becoming a family physician is no doubt not easy, with the many years of training and the high costs of education. However, the reward for these struggles is considerably high in terms of money, respect and job satisfaction. A family doctor’s salary is well above the average household income, making this a worthwhile career path. A significant amount of time on the job will be spent interacting with the patients, but helping a patient heal, and developing a longtime relationship with the patient and their family is an additionally gratifying part of the job.