In the increasingly confusing world of health care, one thing remains constant: Family Physicians are dedicated to treating the Whole Person and the Whole Family. Family medicine's cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focusing on integrated care. Unlike other specialties that are limited to a particular organ or disease, family medicine integrates care for patients of all genders and every age, and advocates for the patient in a complex health care system.
The specialty of family medicine was created in 1969 to fulfill the generalist function in medicine, which suffered with the growth of sub-specialization after World War II. Since its creation, the specialty has delivered on its promise to reverse the decline of general medicine and provide personal, front-line medical care to people of all socioeconomic levels and in all regions of the United States.
Today, family physicians provide the majority of care for America’s under-served rural and urban populations. In fact, family physicians are distributed more proportionally to the U.S. population than any other physician specialty. Without family physicians, rural and under-served populations, in particular, would lack access to primary care.
Because of their extensive training, family physicians are the only specialists qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages– from newborns to seniors. Like other medical specialists, family physicians complete a three-year residency program after graduating from medical school.
As part of their residency, they participate in integrated inpatient and outpatient learning and receive training in six major medical areas: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine. They also receive instruction in many other areas including geriatrics, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, radiology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, and urology. Family Physicians are qualified to perform many procedures in their office.
Family physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic, and preventive medical care services while providing patients with a patient-centered medical home. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, they also provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests, and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Family physicians also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other sub-specialists. From heart disease, stroke and hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, and asthma, family physicians provide ongoing, personal care for the nation’s most serious health problems.