What are the differences between a Family Care physician, a General Practitioner, and a Primary Care physician? Also, why is it important to have a Primary Care physician for your family’s medical care in Kentucky
About fifty years ago, doctors practicing family medical care in Kentucky who were not exclusively focused on one particular specialization (such as brain surgery) were all called general practitioners. However, the special area of medical treatment we now know as family medicine became recognized by the American Board of Family Medicine as an area of specialization 25 years ago. In 1995 the American Board of General Practice was established for the purpose of reinstituting the roles of doctors called general practitioners and separating the description of their area of medicine from doctors who specialize in family practice.
Education for General Practitioners vs. Family Practitioners
Both general practitioners and family practitioners are MDs. After graduating from medical school, students who want to become General Practitioners instead of specializing in one particular area of medicine continue into a required training program for general practice conducted through the American College of General Medicine. However, graduates who want to pursue the specialty of family medicine go into an ABFP-approved residency program to develop skills in the specialty of Family Medicine (usually completed in 3-7 years).
Similarities Between Primary Care and General Medicine
Both general medicine practitioners and family medicine practitioners are primary-care physicians. This means that both consult patients of all age groups and treat wide varieties of medical conditions. Both also treat patients who have the same kinds of short-term or long-term illnesses. Additionally, for a patient whose medical condition needs treatment by a specialist with expertise in a specific area beyond the scope of general or family medicine, the specialist is called on to work with the patient and his or her primary care doctor.
What is a Primary Care Physician?
Under the definition provided by the Institute of Medicine, primary care medicine is “the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing this extended partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.”
The Value of Having a Primary Care Doctor
Primary care doctors manage the health care of populations, which significantly reduces the numbers of visits to hospitals by patients in need of treatments that could have been handled in a doctor’s office. Just one primary care physician for every 10,000 people in the country can reduce the number of emergency room visits by 11%, hospital admissions by 5.5%, and surgeries by 7%.
Therefore, you can well imagine the profound impact on medical care that is being accomplished every day when you multiply these percentages by the total number of the nation’s primary care physicians. Without primary care physicians shifting this massive amount of medical care away from hospitals, the quality of hospital care would be impacted by the sheer volume of intake. Also, treatment in the doctor’s office allows patients to develop continuity of their care and doctor/patient relationships that are very important to optimization of personal health care.
KentuckyCare is committed to quality family practice health care that is affordable for all. KentuckyCare never turns away a patient based on their ability to pay and strives to provide continuity for patients. For high-quality family medical care in Kentucky, contact us by calling (877) 791-9154 to speak to one of our friendly, helpful medical staff members.