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What does a Family Physician do?

Family physicians are physicians educated and trained in family practice—a broadly encompassing medical specialty. Family physicians provide continuing and comprehensive medical care, health maintenance and preventive services to each member of the family, regardless of sex, age or type of problem—biological, behavioral or social.

What might a Family Physician do in a workday?

Family practice is a three-dimensional specialty, incorporating the dimensions of knowledge, skill and process. While knowledge and skill may be shared with other specialties, the family practice process is unique. At the center of this process is the patient-physician relationship. It is the extent to which this relationship is valued, developed and nurtured that distinguishes family practice from all other specialties.

Family physicians:

  • teach patients about their own health and wellness needs, as well as those of their children. Also, they track children’s growth and development.
  • treat patients suffering from common acute health problems such as respiratory infections, flu, sports injuries, back pain and minor trauma (lacerations and sprains).
  • examine and diagnose patients using clinical skills, medical equipment, instruments and tests.
  • prescribe and administer drugs and treatments.
  • immunize patients against preventable and communicable diseases.
  • provide ongoing treatment for those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, arthritis or cardiac conditions.
  • care for patients with complex medical problems, either alone or in consultation with medical or surgical subspecialists.
  • perform outpatient procedures, such as dermatologic procedures, minor surgeries, etc.

Developing a Career as a Family Physician

Most family physicians work in private offices, hospitals and clinics. They may work alone or with other physicians and are usually aided by nurses, technicians and other support personnel.

How much salary do Family Physicians make?

Average Salary Range:
$145,000-$180,000

How do I become a Family Physician?

Students interested in becoming a family physician should take the most challenging high school courses available in science, math and English, including advanced placement courses.

To enter medical school, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a high grade point average in a premedical program or other related major. They must pass a national examination (MCAT) and undergo extensive interviews.

Upon completion of medical school, students enter a three-year postgraduate training program in family medicine (internship and residency), during which they receive training specific to family practice.

Where else can I learn about becoming a Family Physician?

Professional Associations:

Virginia Academy of Family Physicians
1503 Santa Rosa Road
Suite 207
Richmond, VA 23229
(804) 968-5200
www.vafp.org

Medical Society of Virginia
2924 Emerywood Parkway
Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23294-3746
(800) 746-6768
www.msv.org

American Academy of Family Physicians
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Leawood, KS 66211-2672
(913) 906-6000
(800) 274-2237
www.aafp.org

State License Requirements for Family Physicians

A license is required to be a Family Physician in the state of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.gov/medicine.

Virginia Board of Medicine
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, VA 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4600
Email: medbd@dhp.virginia.gov

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