What is Family Medicine? What does a Family Medicine Physician do?
As a Family Medicine physician I am often confronted with these questions. Family Medicine is a relatively new specialty in the field of medicine, which evolved to fill the need of providing personal and continuous health care to the entire family. This includes individuals of all gender/sex and health conditions, as well as of all ages, from before birth (antenatal care) to advanced age and end-of-life care.
Family Medicine physicians play an essential role in primary health care and are typically the first point of contact with the health system within a community, for many.
Treatment is geared towards continuous care, health promotion, screening and disease prevention, acute and chronic disease management, mental health and behavioural counseling, rehabilitation and palliation. Family Medicine physicians are the “gate-keepers of healthcare” and navigate patients through various medical sub-specialties when more specialized care is needed. They act as patient advocates ensuring patients access to appropriate health care services and resources. The family medicine specialist provides personalized care that is centered around the patient’s needs, concerns, personal values and perception the illness – all within the context of one’s family dynamics and social circumstances.
The Family Physician can be viewed as “a personal doctor” or “generalist” who provides family-centred, patient-centred health care and acknowledges the whole person as a physical, social, mental and spiritual being and not merely presence or absence of disease. The Family Physician is a specialist who is competent in initial management of all types of illness for all family members and will refer when further specialized care is warranted.
By: Dr. Joanne Paul-Charles