Difference between a Family Practice and General Practice

Updated on June 22, 2018

With so many types of doctors and medical specializations, it is no wonder you can sometimes get them confused. Do you know what type of doctor you need for a liver ailment or for joint pain? But what about those times when you do not know exactly what ails you? Do you go to your local general practice or to a family practice? By the way, what is the difference between a family practice and a general practice?

Summary Table

Family PracticeGeneral Practice
A business providing general medical services to a communityA service providing general medical services to patients
Family oriented, with knowledge of medical priors and possibility of prevention of hereditary diseasesPatient-oriented mainly
Works in a communityExists in a clinic
Requires 3 years of residency and a board certificationRequires a 3-7 years training program and a license
Certified by the American Board of Family PracticeCertified by the American College of General Medicine

Definitions

A family practice is the clinic of a doctor that provides primary medical care. The members of a family are registered with this doctor who, in time, gets to know the full medical and personal history of every individual. Such a doctor is expected to do prevention and follow-up treatments prescribed by specialists.

General practice is the service provided by a general practitioner, or GP. This person has an overall medical training and provides primary medical services. A GP would be the best person to consult when a patient does not know what specialist to address for a specific ailment.

Family Practice vs General Practice

Every adult must know when to visit a doctor and must be registered with a competent professional. If this is your first time thinking about this, here are some pointers on how to get started. We will begin by finding out what the difference is between a family practice and general practice.

Specialization

As far as their specialization is concerned, both a doctor in a family practice and a GP must have an overall comprehension of the entire human body. Unlike a specialist focusing on one organ alone, the generalist and family doctor must do a full-body assessment of an individual.

Type of practice

A family practice is a place where all the members of a family are consulted. This means that the doctor providing this service must be aware of all possible problems of people of all ages, from newborns to older people.

A GP is usually a practitioner in a hospital. People turn to them to diagnose problems they cannot blame an organ on from the very beginning, or for milder diseases affecting the entire body, like a severe cold.

These both recommend further specialized investigations while being capable of treating milder illnesses themselves.

Types of patients

Depending on the organization of the medical system, some communities may have access to family doctors, whereas others have access to large clinics with GPs. The care provided in these cases is different. In a smaller community, a family doctor will know the medical background of each patient. They may even treat the rest of the family and they may think in advance of some of the problems the individual might inherit.

By comparison, a GP is seen in a larger clinic and does not always have the same patients over and over again.

Qualifications

In the US, a family practitioner must complete 3 years of residency and must be certified to practice medicine by the American Board of Family practice. Once these requirements are met, a family practitioner could even prescribe more advanced treatment and perform minor surgeries in their clinics.

A general practitioner needs a license to practice medicine, and for that he needs to undergo 3-7 years of training offered by the American College of General Medicine, after completing college courses.

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