Choosing Your Healthcare: Family Practice and General Practice


There are many different kinds of doctors and medical experts, and it can be easy to mix them up sometimes. You might know which doctor to see for a heart problem or when your joints hurt, but what about when you don’t know what’s wrong with you? Do you visit your family doctor or a general doctor?

Let’s understand the difference between family practice and general practice, the kinds of help they offer, and the people they take care of.

What’s the Difference Between Family Practice and General Practice?

Family practice is a doctor’s office where you can get basic medical help. When you become a patient at a family practice, your family doctor learns about your health history, as well as your family’s, and works with you to keep you healthy. These doctors help everyone, no matter how old they are.

General practice is kind of like an urgent care center or a regular health clinic. General practitioners offer broad medical assistance to individuals of all age groups, typically without specializing in a specific medical field. Your GP not only addresses your health issues but also assesses the necessity of consulting a specialist for continuous care when required.

General Practitioner vs Family Medicine – What Does Each Profession Do?

Family doctors take care of your health. They check how you feel, find out what’s wrong if you’re sick, and help with ongoing health problems. They can also do routine check-ups on people of all ages, including kids.

Other things family doctors can do:

  • Do tests to find problems
  • Give shots to keep you safe from diseases
  • Talk to you about staying healthy

Family doctors can also become experts in specific areas. Some focus on sports or emergency medicine. Others help in urgent situations or work on public health.

Meanwhile, a general practitioner takes care of adults’ health. They’re the first doctor you see for everyday health worries. Additionally, these professionals can order tests to find out what’s wrong and can fix small cuts.

Other than that, general doctors can help in emergencies, but they might call for extra help from emergency responders too. Some things general practitioners do are:

  • Giving shots to keep you safe
  • Checking how you feel inside your head
  • Doing regular check-ups and looking after you
  • Giving you medicine when you need it

Specialization Differences of Family Medicine vs General Practitioner

In the field of medicine, family practice is a special area. Family medicine doctors get special training to understand and treat all kinds of health problems that affect everyone in your family. They learn about kids, older people, pregnancy, and women’s health. They can help with lots of different health needs, like:

  • Breathing problems and allergies
  • Long-term illnesses like high blood pressure, bronchitis, and diabetes
  • Check-ups for school, sports, jobs, and insurance
  • Treating coughs, colds, and the flu
  • Special exams for certain jobs like driving (DOT physicals)
  • Sore throats and tonsillitis
  • Managing your weight
  • Checking your health risks
  • Planning for your family
  • Shots to keep you safe
  • Treating injuries from car accidents and work accidents
  • Women’s health, like exams and staying healthy

A general practitioner is a medical professional who practices in locations such as urgent care facilities, hospitals, and medical clinics. They can figure out and treat lots of different health problems, but they don’t specialize in one thing. Your general practitioner keeps track of your health records and can send you to a specialist if needed. They can also do small stitches and treat wounds.

These clinics have labs and machines to test for certain health problems. They want to help you stay healthy and avoid going to the hospitals.

Family Doctor – Training and Education

Just like other doctors, family doctors need to go to medical school for four years. They must also successfully complete a significant examination known as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). For those with a background in osteopathic medicine, there is an alternative examination called the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX).

After passing these tests, they spend three to four years doing more training in family medicine. During this time, they learn about:

  • Kids’ health (pediatrics)
  • Pregnancy and women’s health (obstetrics and gynecology)
  • Adult health (internal medicine)
  • Mental health and brain problems (psychiatry and neurology)
  • Surgery
  • Taking care of communities (community medicine)

When they finish this training, they can ask for certification from medical groups like:

  • American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS)
  • American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
  • American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (AOABOS)

General Practitioner’s Training and Education

Becoming a general practitioner involves a series of essential steps. Initially, individuals must complete four years of medical school. Following this, they are required to pass one of the board exams mentioned earlier. Similar to family doctors, they are also obligated to undertake a residency program, which can vary in duration from three to seven years. Upon completing these stages, they have the option to pursue board certification through organizations like ABMS, ABPS, or AOABOS.

Family Practice and General Practice – Knowing Who Can Help

Gaining insight into the distinction between family practice and general practice can empower you to make well-informed choices regarding your healthcare. Family doctors specialize in comprehensive care for individuals of all ages and backgrounds, providing a holistic approach to family health. On the other hand, general practitioners offer immediate medical assistance and coordinate referrals to specialists when needed, focusing on adult health concerns.

Both professions undergo rigorous training and certification processes to ensure the highest quality of care. It’s crucial to choose the right healthcare provider based on your specific needs and to prioritize regular check-ups and preventive measures for your well-being. Take charge of your health today by scheduling an appointment with the most suitable medical professional. Your health matters, and making informed choices can lead to a healthier and happier life.


Scroll to Top