Scope of Practice

Overview

Family physicians possess distinctive attitudes, skills, and knowledge that collectively allow them to provide comprehensive medical care, health maintenance, and preventive services to each member of the family – regardless of sex or age -- for a range of biological and behavioral problems.

Because of their patient relationships and training, family physicians are uniquely positioned to lead patient care teams, especially under the Patient Centered Medical Home model. Family physicians also serve as patient advocates in all health-related matters, including the appropriate use of specialists, health services, and community resources.

Despite the family physician’s singular qualifications for guiding patients in the Patient Centered Medical Home, many primary care doctors could face encroachment on their scope of practice by clinicians seeking to gain exclusive domain over certain services.

The AAFP believes policies and guidelines should be adopted that protect the scope of family medicine while also allowing family physicians to work closely with other specialties and health professionals within the context of the Patient Centered Medical Home team.

As part of this effort, the AAFP urges policymakers to delineate the roles of allied health professionals more clearly. These individuals play an important part in the delivery of health services, and provide essential assistance to family physicians in providing care as part of a physician-directed team.

The AAFP continues to believe that the scope of allied health professionals' respective practices should not undermine or impede the ability of family physicians to lead the PCMH or provide a traditional array of comprehensive services. Given family physicians' extensive education and training, we believe patient safety and care quality are best served by ensuring that many of the services provided by allied health professionals are done so only under supervision of a physician.


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