What is Family Medicine?



General Practitioner: A physician trained before 1969 to give primary care to individuals regardless of age, gender, or type of health problem. Training included four years of medical school and a one-year rotating hospital-based internship.

Family Physician: A physician trained (after 1969) in the discipline of family medicine to provide care to patients and their families with a focus on their community. The care provided is continuing, comprehensive, coordinative, preventive, and delivered in a personalized manner to patients regardless of age, gender, presence of disease or organ system affected.

Family Medicine: An academic discipline which includes a body of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that constitute the medical discipline and are necessary for a family physician to provide clinical care and conduct the research and educational activities which affect the delivery of primary care.

Primary Care: A form of medical care delivery that emphasizes first-contact and assumes responsibility for the patient in both health maintenance and therapy of illness. It is personal care involving a unique interaction and communication between the patient and the physician. It is comprehensive in scope and includes the overall coordination of the care of the patient's health problems, be they biological, behavioral, or social, including appropriate use of consultants and community resources. It assumes a continuum of responsibility from the care of individual patient to the health of the community. (From the American Academy of Family Physicians)

Level of medical services which is community-based as opposed to that of a consultant or specialist (secondary care) or use of hospital services (tertiary care). It includes the tasks of:

  1. Medical diagnosis and treatment
  2. Psychological assessment and management
  3. Personal support
  4. Communication of information about illness, prevention, and health maintenance
  5. Maintenance of patients with chronic illness
  6. Prevention of disability and disease through detection, education, persuasion, and preventive treatment.

Ambulatory Care: Personal health services rendered to individuals in an outpatient setting, at any time when they are not currently admitted to a hospital or health care institution.