Family Medicine: Comprehensive Care for the Whole Person
Family medicine integrates a broad-spectrum approach to primary care with the consideration of health-impacting social determinants and community factors, while also serving as an advocate for the patient in an increasingly complex health care system. Unlike other narrowly focused specialties, 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.
Relationships: The Heart of Family Medicine
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.
The Variety of Ways that Family Physicians Serve Their Patients
BY PROVIDING SERVICES
As part of their primary care practice, family doctors offer diverse services to their patients.
- 82% routinely perform procedures
- 48% treat patients in a hospital setting
- 31% deliver emergency care
- 74% care for infants and children
- 83% have hospital privileges
- 18% provide OB care
BY PERFORMING PROCEDURES
Family physicians are trained to perform multiple types of procedures, including:
- Family planning and early pregnancy evaluation and management
- Musculoskeletal injections
- Skin procedures
- Suturing lacerations
- Ultrasound imaging
"Why I love being a family physician."
Read in-depth interviews with Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbeyejani and other family physicians as they share about their career choice, a typical day in practice, and more.
Medicine Based upon a Broad Scope of Knowledge
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 580 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).