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Family medicine

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Doctor David Jimenez-Celi is a Family physician and clinic manager of SeaMar Community Clinic in Monroe

Family medicine is a medical specialty where the Family physician focuses in treating the patient as a whole and not a specific organ, disease, age or gender. A family physician is able to care for a variety of patients and does not limit its care due to specific factors. Not only are they able to diagnose and treat illness, but they are also in charge of preventing illnesses, provide routine check ups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening test [1]. It incorporates knowledge, skill, and process. Though knowledge and skill are also needed for other specialties, the process is unique to this specialty. The patient-physician relationship is an important part of this process. The value of the relationship developed, and maintaining this relationship is what separates Family medicine from other specialties[2].


The first physicians in history were generalists, general physicians. For many years these physicians would provide health care for every medical need. They would diagnose and treat illnesses, perform surgeries, and perform deliveries. As medical knowledge continued to grow, as well as technology, many physicians decided to narrow their practice into more specific areas in medicine. When World War II began, the idea of specialization became more popular. As time continued, the number of specialists and subspecialists began to increase rapidly [2].

Multiple studies were made in the 1950s and 1960s, and they showed that the number of general practitioners were rapidly declining, but the medical establishment opposed the creating of a specialty that would fill the void. In 1900 the percentage of graduates going into General Practice was 47%, and shortly fell to 19% in 1964[3]. The public became more demanding with the kind of care they were provided with and protested against the shortage of personal physicians who could provide them with initial and continuous care.At this point they began to reorganize medicine to a more personal, primary care[2].

The founders of the Board of Family Medicine where able to use these studies to emphasize the need for a new generalist-type of specialty; which they named Family Practice. Though many agree with the idea, some were concerned with the great amount of knowledge the physician needed to posses. This practice would requires four years of medical school and entering a residency program. Based on its General Practice heritage, Family physicians have training in: first-contract care, continuous care, comprehensive care, personal care, family care, and competency in scientific general medicine [3].

On February of 1969 the American Board of Family medicine was recognized as the 20th primary medical specialty, though the practice had been existent many years before that[3].

What does a family physician do?

A primary care provider can allow you to establish a trusting relationship with one medical professional over time and maintain continuity in your personal health care. Working as a team you and your primary care physician can work towards preventive health care and follow the best measures needed to achieve and maintain your personal health.

Family medicine is a specialty that is based on high-quality, cost-effective patient care; which provides care for the whole family. It is described as a "... specialty that provides continuing and comprehensive health care for the individual and the family. It is the specialty in breadth that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences ... (encompassing) all ages, both sexes, each organ system and every disease entity," by the American Academy of Family Physicians [4].

Family physicians are medical specialists

  • Since 1969 he American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties recognize Family Medicine as a specialty.
  • Three years of residency are required for comprehensive training.
  • Family Medicine focuses on the whole person, not a specific body system or disease[4].

Family physicians are trained to manage the vast majority of ailments

  • Family Physicians have the skills needed to diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses.
  • Family Physicians are valuable because they care for both genders and all members of the family.
  • The training covers a broad range of areas; including: obstetrics, gynecology, baby deliveries, care for both infants and adults, surgery, emergency medicine, sports medicine and orthopedics, psychiatry, geriatrics, skin diseases, disease prevention and public health[4].

Family Medicine Training

A Family physician taking care of an elderly patient

Family Medicine requires a formal training of a three-year residency program. The curriculum of the program includes:

  • medical care of all members of the family(children, adults and the elderly)
  • prenatal and infant care
  • deliveries
  • surgical procedures
  • human behavior and psychological intervention
  • emergency care
  • sports medicine
  • common orthopedic problems
  • laboratory medicine
  • diagnostic imaging interpretation
  • health promotion
  • disease prevention
  • practice management[4]

A family Physician needs to stay up to day with the new advancements with medicine. The American Academy of Family Physicians requiers the physician to complete 150 hours of approved continuing education every three years so that they can retain their membership[4].

Why go into Family Medicine?


  1. Author Unknown Family Medicine Beaumont Health System. Web. Date-of-access: 14 May, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Author Unknown. Family Medicine, Scope and Philosophical Statement American Academy of Family Physicians. Web. Date-of-access: May 23, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Author Unknown. Family Medicine FAQ The Student Doctor Network. Web. Date-of-publication: October 28, 2004
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Author Unknown. What is Family Medicine? Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians. Web. Date-of-access: May 13, 2013.