Family medicine integrates a broad-spectrum approach to primary care with the consideration of health-impacting social determininants and community factors, while also serving as an advocate for the patient in an increasingly complex health care system. Unlike other narrowly focused specialities, family medicine includes the biological, clinical, and behavioral sciences, encompassing all ages, sexes, each organ system, and every disease entity.
The focus of a family physician is the whole person. They shepherd male and female patients of all ages through the complex health system, and coordinate the care of their health. By building relationships with their patients over time, family physicians are able to develop a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ health, and offer insightful, personal guidance and treatment.
Family Medicine Facts
The patient-physician relationship is at the heart of family medicine. Beyond reported concerns, family physicians take the time to consider additional health factors in their patients' lives, including family and community situations and relationships.
While there are similarities between family medicine and the other primary care specialties, it is the extent to which family physicians value, develop, nurture, and maintain a relationship with each patient that distinguishes family medicine from all other specialties.
As part of their primary care practice, family doctors offer diverse services to their patients.
Family physicians are trained to perform multiple types of procedures, including:
Learn more about studying to become a family physician from the article, Responses to Medical Students' Frequently Asked Questions about Family Medicine »(8 page PDF)
Family physicians complete extensive training beyond medical school in order to be able to provide the best possible patient care, including:
A 3-Year Residency
There are more than 470 family medicine residency programs in the United States. Settings include: academic, community, military, inner-city, urban, suburban, rural, and more. A few 4-year residency programs are available.
In-Depth Training Across the Lifespan
All family physicians are trained in labor and delivery; emergency medicine; surgery and procedures; pediatrics; hospital medicine (including intensive care, inpatient, and outpatient); and geriatrics.
Additional Training Options
Available fellowships and Certificates of Added Qualification (beyond Board certification) range in duration from three months to three years.
Hospice and palliative medicine
Family physicians who meet the criteria may obtain Board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). Learn more about Board certification in family medicine by visiting the ABFM website(www.theabfm.org).
Recruitment data indicates that family physicians are in high demand. According to Merritt, Hawkins & Associates(www.merritthawkins.com), family physicians have been the most recruited physicians for hospitals, medical groups, and health care organizations for eight years in a row.
Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbeyejani
Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbeyejani
Read in-depth interviews with family physicians as they share about their career choice, a typical day in practice, and more.
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Medical School & Residency
About Family Medicine