What is a Family Physician?

A Family Physician is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of common conditions, such as asthma, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Family physicians treat chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. They also provide family planning and reproductive counseling.

Family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person. Family medicine works by developing an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. Family physicians help keep their patients healthy by providing care through an individualized plan. To develop a personal treatment plan, a family physician will ask the patient questions about family health history and lifestyle to determine any health risk factors. When specialists are needed, a family physician refers the patient out and coordinates the treatment received.

Family physicians are certified by the national medical association, the American Board of Family Medicine, which requires recertification by examination every six years. To maintain board certification, family physicians must also complete at least 150 hours of continuing medical education every three years.

Professional Family Physician Organizations

American Board of Family Medicine is the second largest medical specialty board in the United States. Founded in 1969, it is a voluntary, not-for-profit, private organization whose purposes include improving the quality of medical care available to the public; establishing and maintaining standards of excellence in the specialty of Family Medicine; improving the standards of medical education for training in Family Medicine; and determining by evaluation the fitness of specialists in Family Medicine who apply for and hold certificates.

American Academy of Family Physicians is a national association of family doctors. It is one of the largest national medical organizations, with more than 94,000 members in 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the uniformed services. The AAFP was founded in 1947 to promote and maintain high quality standards for family doctors who are providing continuing comprehensive health care to the public.

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Last updated: 1/8/2019