Family and General Practitioner

Pros


  • You will be the first point of contact for medical issues for patients, most of which will come to you for medical advice on a long-term basis.
  • This field is always growing, and demand for this career is great.
  • You will be making decisions that help improve the lives of your patients.

Cons

  • You may have to work long hours, often working outside of the normal workday schedule.
  • It takes a lot of education and training to enter this profession.
  • Many people will come to you with health problems, and you must be able to deal with them in a respectful manner.

Overview

Family and general practitioners are medical doctors that diagnose health problems, prescribing medications and a wide array of treatments in order to try to alleviate what is wrong with a patient. Doctors are trained in two different disciplines: a doctor of medicine, known as a MD, or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, also known as DO. The difference between the two is that a DO is focused more on the bone and muscle structure of the body in an attempt to provide preventive and holistic care while and MD is more focused on prescribing medicine or recommending surgical procedures for problems.

A general practitioner will usually be in a private practice setting, having a stable of regular patients that come for consultations regarding health problems. While they are aware of treatments for many different ailments, they will often refer their patients to specialists who can further diagnose and treat in-depth problems. They will perform physical check-ups by checking vital statistics and physical characteristics for patients to make sure that they are in good health. Many will offer healthy living advice in order to promote preventive health practices for their patients.

While many family and general practitioners will work for themselves, some of them will be employed by other organizations. This may include a practice owned by another doctor, a hospital or a corporation providing in-house medical care to employees. Family and general practitioners will also sometimes spend time teaching the communities that they live in or consulting with companies, providing their expertise on medical subjects.

Education

Family and general practitioners must be trained to become physicians. It takes a lot of education to become a physician. One must spend four years as an undergraduate student studying as a pre-med major, four years in medical school, and several years in a residency program at a hospital. Medical students are required to take the MCAT, or the medical college admissions test. Getting into medical school is competitive. Once in medical school students will undergo extensive training that will be academically challenging. This will continue while they are in a residency program at a hospital for hands-on training.

Job Prospects

Becoming a family and general practitioner offers excellent job prospects. With most workplaces offering medical benefits to their employees, people regularly go for annual medical physicals. Also, everyone at some point in their lives needs to visit a doctor’s office, and with a population that is both growing and aging, the demand for these services is great. This field is experiencing above average growth.

Advancement Opportunities

For family and general practitioners, the ability to advance depends on whether one is self-employed or not. For those who work for themselves their practice can grow as large as they wish, often hiring other doctors on salary to keep up with demand. For those who work for others, it is possible to take on enough work to become a partner with a sole proprietor, but generally it is more lucrative to start one’s own practice.