Family Medicine: The Center of Primary Care
Unlike other specialties that are limited to a particular organ or disease, family physicians are the only specialists qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages — from newborns to seniors. This looks like this:
- Caring for patients regardless of age or health condition, sustaining an enduring and trusting relationship
- Understanding community-level factors and social determinants of health
- Serving as a patient’s first contact for health concerns
- Navigating the health care system with patients, including specialist and hospital care coordination and follow-up
- Using data and technology to coordinate services and enhance care
- Considering the impact of health on a patient’s family
Is a Career in Medicine Right for You?
Most physicians chose to pursue medicine as a career because they wanted to make a difference by helping people and positively impacting lives through health care. You, too, can invest your intellect, skills, and passion to serve others in the demanding and rewarding medical profession.
It’s the combination of passion for the patients and a depth of knowledge of the human body that makes primary care such a unique, effective specialty. Access to a regular primary care physician has been linked to:
- Lower infant mortality
- Higher birth weights
- Immunization rates above national standards
- Lower overall health care costs
- Longer, healthier lives
The AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and student members nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
What Family Physicians Do
Family physicians complete extensive training beyond medical school in order to be able to provide the best possible patient care, including a three-year residency; in-depth training across a human lifespan from birth to death; and potential additional fellowships and qualifications in concentrations like adolescent medicine, emergency medicine, faculty development, and more.
Family medicine residents participate in integrated inpatient and outpatient learning and receive training in six major medical areas — pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine.
Family physicians provide the majority of care for America’s underserved rural and urban populations. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, they also provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests, and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Family physicians also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other subspecialists. From heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, and asthma, family physicians provide ongoing, personal care for the nation’s most serious health problems.
- 82% routinely perform procedures
- 48% treat patients in a hospital setting
- 31% deliver emergency care
- 74% care for infants and children
- 83% have hospital privileges
- 18% provide OB care
- Family planning and early pregnancy evaluation and management
- Musculoskeletal injections
- Skin procedures
- Suturing lacerations
- Ultrasound imaging