Angie's LIST Guide to
Family medicine

Whether referred to as a general practitioner (GP), primary care physician (PCP) or family physician, to you, that’s your doctor. He or she is the one you see for a routine physical, medical tests, nagging aches or mysterious pains. Your family doctor knows your medical history and the medications you take and can refer you to specialists.
 

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Family physicians can develop relationships with patients in order to monitor their health and provide consistent care. (Photo by Karen Geswein)
Family physicians can develop relationships with patients in order to monitor their health and provide consistent care. (Photo by Karen Geswein)
 
 
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What a family practice does

In family medicine, or general medicine, doctors develop a relationship with their patients that can be helpful in knowing their medical and family history with disease and illness. A family practice stresses the importance of preventive care, which can help extend your lifespan and prevent premature death while reducing the dependence on emergency rooms and hospitals. 

Family doctors can form a diagnosis, counsel patients on chronic conditions and medical treatment options, order tests, prescribe medication and suggest treatment options and refer patients to a specialist. They can help people with any number of problems: in the ear, nose and throat, in bones and joint, with mental and behavioral issues, with urinary and reproductive systems and even basic eye care. They can also manage complex diseases like heart conditions, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, anxiety and depression. Some can even perform emergency medical procedures and minor surgery. 

GPs can train in different fields of medicine, they can be men and women and they can be young or old.

Qualifications for a family doctor

To work as a family physician in the United States, a doctor must earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) and complete a three-year residency. During their residency, doctors learn about issues such as the patient-doctor relationship, sleep medicine, adolescent medicine and preventive medicine.

In most countries, doctors need to pass a board examination in order to work as a family doctor. The American board also requires that doctors receive continuing education and retake the board examination at least once every 10 years.

Individuals working in this field may work in a private practice, group practice, a public health role or hospital or do research.

What to look for in a family doctor

If you're on a medical insurance plan, you should check your insurance providers list of doctors in your network. Read through the listing of GPs in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. Carefully research the doctors you are considering. Verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, insurance carriers they use and hospital affiliations by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see reviews and rankings from other members in that doctor's care.

If you have a chronic condition, you may want to look up advocacy associations to receive referrals for primary care doctors knowledgeable in working with patients with your condition. Several state associations can help you to research a doctor.  

When you've narrowed down your list, visit the doctor's office. You should feel confident that you can get in touch with your doctor when necessary and that office staff are helpful. Make sure that the doctor's hours fit with your schedule. You may also wish to ask if there are alternative ways to contact your doctor if you have a question, such as via email.

Be sure to observe the doctor's personality and find out his or her approach to diagnosis and treatment. Some doctors have a more professional communication style while others are more laid-back.  Some doctors also tend to be more thorough in testing, focus on prevention or offer more aggressive treatments. Look for a doctor who you are comfortable with. Finally, make sure that the doctor you choose values your opinion and allows you to work as a team to ensure you get the best health care possible. Family medicine is an important field in the health care system.

Comments

Our current doctor is very cold and seemingly disinterested in what we have to
say. My husband and I always go to our appointments together so we are well aware of the others needs or problems, but not at our current doctor's office.
Our doctor sold his practice and this doctor was the closest in location for us.
WE want a good doctor with a good reputation who TALKS to his/her patients
and values our opinions. We feel we know our bodies better than anyone else. We have Medicare and AARP for insurance.

Hi I'm Looking for affortable medical insurance for me & my daughter. she suffers from asthma. We do not have medical coverage at this time. We both have been sick but I'm afraid to go to the emergency room since we don't have medical coverage please help.

My old Doctor recently sold his practice to pursue cosmetic surgery and he was wonderful. He would listen to me and give me the referrals that i would ask for! Now that he's gone, these two doctors took over and they are horrible!! I had my physical 3 weeks ago and i'm still waiting for my results! I've been calling all week and still nothing... The office workers are very lazy and don't get back to you when you ask them. I even asked the assistant to talk to the doctor about refilling my medicine and the doctor still hasn't done that either.
I have a debilitating disease and have been going to specialist for 5 years.. my records are all there for the new doctors to look at and still they question me when i ask for the medications that i need!

I'm looking for a good understanding doctor who will listen to my needs and won't dismiss me or prescribe the wrong medication. Who will get back to me when i take tests that are crucial to my health!!
Someone, please help!!

My old Doctor recently sold his practice to pursue cosmetic surgery and he was wonderful. He would listen to me and give me the referrals that i would ask for! Now that he's gone, these two doctors took over and they are horrible!! I had some tests done 3 weeks ago and i'm still waiting for my results! I've been calling all week and still nothing... The office workers are very lazy and don't get back to you when you ask them, i left messages for the doctor to call me and she never does! I even asked the assistant to talk to the doctor about refilling my medicine and the doctor still hasn't done that either.
I have a debilitating disease and have been going to specialist for 5 years.. my records are all there for the new doctors to look at and still they question me when i ask for the medications that i need!

I'm looking for a good understanding doctor who will listen to my needs and won't dismiss me or prescribe the wrong medication. Who will get back to me when i take tests that are crucial to my health!!
Someone, please help!!

who would recommend for a family primart dr?

Would like a recommendation for a woman GP/Family Medicine in the area of 46375 zip code who accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois PPO.

I am in Michigan seeking a doctor that wont give me such a hard time about being in pain, and will take me seriously , I am not happy with my current physician and I want to find one that will at the least prescribe me pain medicine.

I am on SSI and have type 2 diabetes. I am not able to tolerate any more shots of cortizone. It raises my blood sugar and I have had mood swings from the blood sugar changes. I recently left my family doctor of 27 years. How can I find a doctor who will adress my medication needs without going to many doctors until I find one that meets my medical needs. Thank you

I suffer from anxiety and depression and I am looking for a pcp provider who can help me.

I have been going to a doctor who likes putting my right.foot in casts for 6 weeks then take it out my foot weaker than ever

I have MS and looking for a doctor to treat my misery. Have other issues. High maintenance in Cincinnati, Ohio

looking for doctor clinics that do tubal reversals in florida

I have been having problems with my stomach for about 5 years. each year i go to a new doctor but they cannot find the problem. they found i have acid reflux hyatial hernia diverticulosis. but claim this is not causing my symptons or pain. i need a good doctor who will listen to me and take a thorough report about my life style the foods i eat etc. i am 59 and have medicare ins.only & its when they feel they have done every test they tell me they dont know what is wrong & say they dont know what else to do. im getting new symptons along with the old and i am very concerned because im sleeping alot i cant eat and overall feel very ill. i have been told to start with a primary doctor. i live in lanoka harbor new jersey. can you help me find a doctor.

Have you been tested for Celiac disease? It can be diagnosed when you go to gastro - sometimes it eludes the test. The treatment is a gluten-free diet (no wheat, no oat, no barley no rye - ever! No matter how little of it you eat). But go to gastro for the blood test and endoscopy - see what dr says.

Have you been tested for Celiac Disease? You'll need to go to a gastro dr. for a work up. Celiac disease is treated by a gluten-free diet (no wheat, oats, barley nor rye - ever!! no matter how small).

I am looking for an really Good doc, the last Doc i had was great but she recently had a better job offer in another state. I was seeing the same doctor for 7 years an she was Great to me. I want someone that can be honest with me all the way. No sugar coding, an make me feel at ease.

Hi Victoria! Using Angie's List you can find ratings and reviews on local physicians in your area. Click here to start your search: http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/us/

 

 

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