Family practice is the medical specialty that is concerned with the total health care of every member of the family. Family medicine integrates the biological, clinical and, behavioral sciences and it isn’t limited by the patient’s age or sex, organ system, or disease entity.
Family Practice Versus General Practice
While family practice follows the general practice tradition, it is significantly different from general practice. In addition to receiving broad hospital training, family practice doctors like Chad Speth receive extensive training in comprehensive and continuous outpatient medicine for patients of all ages. As a specialty, family practice medicine has stringent requirements for continuing medical education, board certification, and board recertification every seven years.
Family Practice Versus Internal Medicine
Historically, internal medicine and family medicine developed out of very different backgrounds. Internal medicine grew from the increasing application of scientific knowledge into the practice of medicine that started in the late 1800s. At the time, this “scientific” approach to medicine was unique and was progressively applied to the wide spectrum of diseases that commonly affect adults. As pediatrics grew into a separate specialty devoted to the care of children in the early 1900s, internal medicine kept its focus on treating adult patients.
As medicine grew more and more specialized through the 1900s, family medicine emerged out of a general practitioner movement to maintain the doctor-patient relationship and continuity of care for patients. The concept of family medicine is built around the social unit of the family, rather than a particular type of patient, organ system, or medical intervention (such as therapy or surgery). Family physicians are therefore trained with the goal of being able to deal with the entire spectrum of medical issues that might be encountered by the members of a family unit.
Family medicine education is broader than internal medicine because it involves training in the care of children and procedures and services often provided by other specialties. This is what makes family physicians like Chad Speth equipped to deal with a wide range of medical issues. Because of their broad skill set, family physicians typically adapt the nature of their practices to meet the specific medical needs of their community, such as our community here in Logan.
The Scope of Family Medicine
Family physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic, and preventive medical care services to patients. 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.
The Kind of Care Provided by Family Physicians
Family medicine like what we provide at Abundant Family Practice is focused on building long-lasting caring relationships with patients and their families. Family medicine physicians provide what is called primary care — the first-line care that people seek not only when sick but for preventive care like vaccinations, annual physicals, and well-baby visits.
The American College of Physicians explains that there are significant differences between internists and family physicians in terms of how they are trained and the clinical approach they take. Family physicians are often trained more broadly learning how to provide procedures and services that are often otherwise the scope of specialists as well as knowing how to care for children. Their training often emphasizes wellness and disease prevention. In contrast, internal medicine physicians receive comprehensive deep training in subspecialties like neurology endocrinology psychiatry and dermatology.