Family practice and general practice are used interchangeably by many people. That is understandable since family doctors and general practitioners have many similarities. However, some details set these physicians apart.
Learning the differences between a family doctor and a general practitioner will help you make informed decisions about your health care. Here is more information about both physician types.
What Is A Family Practice Doctor?
A family doctor is a type of primary care physician. They focus on providing care for your whole family. Thus, they are trained to maintain the health of patients of all ages—from newborns to geriatric patients. Family doctors are also generalists, which means they can treat nearly any medical condition for patients of all ages.
What Do They Do?
Family practice doctors are responsible for evaluating symptoms, diagnosing health problems, helping manage chronic conditions, and offering preventative care. They have a broader scope of training than general practitioners.
Family physicians often work in private offices with other family physicians. However, they can also serve in community health settings with other types of doctors to deliver a wide variety of medical services.
Physicians in family practices can do routine checkups for patients of all ages. These assessments also include well-child visits. Family practice doctors can also:
- Conduct screening tests
- Administer immunizations
- Provide counseling for a healthy lifestyle
Family practice physicians also have the option to specialize in medical subfields. They may become family doctors focusing on sports medicine, emergency medicine, urgent care, or even public health.
Training And Education
Similar to other physicians, family doctors must complete four years in medical school. They must also pass the board exam for doctors, the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). If they have a degree in osteopathic medicine, they also have the option of taking the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX).
After passing either of these examinations, they have three to four years of residency in family medicine. During their residency, they train in six areas of medicine:
- Obstetrics and gynecology
- Internal medicine
- Psychiatry and neurology
- Community medicine
Once they complete a residency, they can apply for certification from medical organizations, such as the:
- American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS)
- American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
- American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (AOABOS)
What Is A General Practitioner?
A general practitioner is also a type of primary care physician. Similar to family medicine physicians, they treat common medical conditions and focus on preventative care. When you need a specialist, they can refer you to one.
What Do They Do?
A general practitioner often focuses on overall adult patient health. They are your first point of contact when it comes to general health concerns. If needed, they can order diagnostic tests to diagnose your condition. They can also perform minor suturing and wound treatment.
General practitioners can provide life-saving treatment for emergency cases. However, they will still need the help of emergency responders. Some of the duties of a general practitioner include:
- Administering immunizations
- Conducting mental health checks
- Doing routine exams and follow-up care
- Prescribing medications
Training And Education
To become a general practitioner, an individual must complete four years of medical school. They must pass either of the board exams previously mentioned. Similar to a family doctor, they must complete their residency, which can take three to seven years. They can also apply for board certification from the ABMS, ABPS, or AOABOS.
Fort Worth Family Practice In Texas
When it comes to your health care, the right information is crucial. We hope this article sheds light on the differences between family doctors and general practitioners, so you can make an informed choice. Whether you choose the former or the latter, it pays to have a doctor you can trust for your family’s health needs.
If you’re looking for a clinic offering family medicine, visit the Texas Medical Institute. We are a leading Fort Worth family practice that also specializes in emergency medicine and chiropractic care. Our philosophy is based on compassionate care that produces fast results.