Family Practitioners are primary care physicians who have had three years of residency to prepare themselves to treat all family members. Eligibility to take their certifying exam in family practice depends on having met certain training requirements.
In the U.S., general practitioners usually refers to physicians who have not completed a family practice residency but still work as primary care doctors. Many years ago physicians who did not specialize needed to have only one year of post medical school training (internship) before entering practice. These physicians were called general practitioners. State licensure and even hospital privileges in some areas require no more training than this. There are some very competent general practitioners around, especially older ones. Dr. Nathan would be concerned about receiving care from a general practitioner unless he either had a very strong recommendation from a colleague or had a long association with the general practitioner and was certain of his/her commitment to continuing education. There is no international standard for certification so that the words “general practitioner” and “family practitioner” may mean different things in different countries. For example, in the U.K. a general practitioner may well have completed special post medical school training in family practice.
Advantages of a Family Practitioners Many patients who visit doctors have symptoms that are related to diet, stress, and psychosocial issues, but are manifested as bodily dysfunction. It is often impossible to disentangle family relationships, personal stress, and physical illness. The family practitioner may be better prepared to recognize and work with these interactions than the specialist who focuses on just the bodily symptoms. A good primary care doctor can become one of your family’s best advisors and friends. Not all family practice doctors provide delivery services. You should check with your family practitioner to be sure that she delivers babies.
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