Family Practice Doctor Job Description

The family doctor cares for all members from the very young to the elderly.  Often they are practically a member of the family
The family doctor cares for all members from the very young to the elderly.  Often they are practically a member of the family

The family doctor cares for all members from the very young to the elderly.  Often they are practically a member of the family.

The family practice doctor is not only a counselor, healer, friend and in some communities even family member. Family practice doctors and general practitioners are often the first point of contact for people seeking health care, acting as the traditional family doctor. They assess and treat a wide range of conditions, ailments, and injuries, from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones and scrapes. Family and general practitioners typically have a patient base of regular, long-term visitors. Patients with more serious conditions are referred to specialists or other health care facilities for more intensive care. They frequently care for families across several generations.

Included in the family practice doctor job description is that of coordinator of care.  These medical professionals often work as the central director and coordinator of patient care. They interface between the patient and all the different specialists to ensure that care is not duplicated and that treatment plans are working.

Physicians and surgeons serve a fundamental role in our society and have an effect upon all our lives. They diagnose illnesses and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care.

There are two types of physicians: M.D.—Doctor of Medicine—and D.O.—Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. M.D.s also are known as allopathic physicians. While both M.D.s and D.O.s may use all accepted methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, D.O.s place special emphasis on the body’s musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic patient care. D.O.s are more likely than M.D.s to be primary care specialists although they can be found in all specialties. About half of D.O.s practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics. The family practice job description can be part of an MD or a DO tradition.

Working Environment

Working conditions are usually pleasant with the work environment being indoors in well lighted exam rooms and hospitals. Hours of work frequently exceed 60 hours a week in the busier practices. This typically can result in being awakened at all hours of the night and/or being asked to come in at irregular times to evaluate a patient.

Education and Training

Formal education and training requirements for physicians are among the most demanding of any occupation—4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty selected. A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 rather than the customary 8 years.

Premedical students must complete undergraduate work in physics, biology, mathematics, English, and inorganic and organic chemistry. Students also take courses in the humanities and the social sciences. Some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain practical experience in the health professions.    


Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories Physicians are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed family or general physician is: 
1) Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school of medicine or osteopathy
2) Complete an accredited program of family or general practice
3) Pass a national exam 
4) Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in.

Important Points

Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular hours; over one-third of full-time physicians worked 60 or more hours a week in 2004.

Formal education and training requirements are among the most demanding of any occupation, but earnings are among the highest.

Job opportunities should be very good, particularly in rural and low-income areas.

New physicians are much less likely to enter solo practice and more likely to work as salaried employees of group medical practices, clinics, hospitals, or health networks.

Career Progression

The outlook for physicians is projected to be very good. Significant shortages exist in rural and underserved areas. The trend towards group practices will provide opportunities for more doctors to hold positions of leadership and authority. This still remains one of the best paying professions in the healthcare industry.

Resources for Family Doctor Job Description

Physicians & Surgeons (Family Physicians) Job Description Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Academy of Family Physicians: Home

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