Family Medicine: Comprehensive Care for the Whole Person

Family medicine integrates a broad-spectrum approach to primary care with the consideration of health-impacting social determinants and community factors, while also serving as an advocate for the patient in an increasingly complex health care system. Unlike other narrowly focused specialties, family medicine includes the biological, clinical, and behavioral sciences, encompassing all ages, sexes, each organ system, and every disease entity

The focus of a family physician is the whole person. They shepherd male and female patients of all ages through the complex health system, and coordinate the care of their health. By building relationships with their patients over time, family physicians are able to develop a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ health, and offer insightful, personal guidance and treatment.

Family physicians provide 16% to 26% of visits for children, providing a medical home for one third of the child population, but face shrinking panels of children. Family medicine’s role in children’s health care is more stable in rural communities, for adolescents, and for underserved populations. For these populations, in particular, family medicine’s role remains important. The erosion of the proportion of visits to family medicine is likely caused by the rapid rise in the number of pediatricians relative to a declining birth rate.

As part of their primary care practice, family doctors offer diverse services to their patients.

36% perform minor surgical procedures

45% treat patients in the ICU

40% deliver care in hospital ERs

59% care for newborns

77% have hospital privileges

19% provide routine OB care

 

-From the American Academy of Family Physicians