A family practitioner is a doctor that specializes in caring for the entire family. They serve as a doctor for someone regardless of their age and gender. That means that they serve children, adults, and the elderly. Some doctors only see adults, while others only see children. Family practitioners see and treat them both. This type of doctor is used for basic problems. They are essentially the same as a general practitioner, except they treat people of all ages.
When most people think of a doctor, they think of a family practitioner. This type of doctor is especially prominent in small, rural communities where there may not be the funds, population, or facilities available to justify doctors who specialize in serving different ages. However, family practitioners can be found in urban and suburban settings as well.
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A family practitioner takes care of patients of all ages. They care for adults and children, as well as the elderly. They will use their knowledge as a medical professional to diagnosis and treat a wide array of medical problems. If a medical problem is outside the range of practice of a family practitioner, they will then refer the patient to an appropriate specialist.
Family practitioners also participate in well-care visits with their patients. These are visits that the patient attends despite being in good health. For children, these visits consist of monitoring their growth and developmental milestones. For adults, the doctor will examine their weight to make sure it is at a healthy level, and may perform routine yearly tests - such as cholesterol tests and blood pressure readings - based on a person's age and other factors. Plus, the doctor will administer vaccines to those who need them. A family practitioner is usually the first doctor that someone will call when they are experiencing an illness or health problem.
Some family practitioners are even able to oversee a pregnancy and help a woman give birth to a child. These doctors may even be able to supervise a newborn's medical care. Family practitioners are able to participate in almost every aspect of the medical profession when caring for a patient or a family.
In order to be a family practitioner, one must complete many years of schooling. First, they must complete a bachelor's degree program. Common undergraduate majors for aspiring family practitioners include biology, chemistry, and exercise science. Once they have attained their bachelor's degree, they need to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. Medical school takes four years of studying on top of the four years of school someone has already completed when they are awarded an undergraduate degree. After medical school, a doctor must complete their residency and internship. Generally, it take between eight and twelve years of school for someone to become a family practitioner.
In addition to the required schooling, some family practitioners opt to gain additional certifications so that they can perform more complex procedures, such as delivering a baby. The more a doctor wants to be able to do, the longer they will need to go to school. Medical school requires a lot of money, so many future family practitioners find themselves needing to take out extensive student loans. As such, some argue that it takes money for someone to become a family doctor.
Family practitioners work in medical settings. Some find work in hospitals, while others open their own private practices. Still, others work in private practices partnered with other doctors, or below other doctors. Some work as medical professionals for universities, while some choose to be professors at universities. Others find work with the government or non-profit organizations.
In rural settings, family practitioners generally set up their own office to serve the people of a town. These doctors may work full-time or part-time. In urban settings, these doctors can be much busier. Some family practitioners report working well over the standard five-day, forty-hour work week. Family practitioners that work in hospitals have especially long and demanding work schedules.
Most family practitioners report that they love what they do. However, these same doctors report that their workplace is very stressful. In the workplace, family doctors will be interacting not only with patients, but with nurses, office workers, and other medical professionals.
Family practitioners make an average salary of $200,000 a year. This is well over $100 an hour. However, this number varies greatly on location and population served. Doctors in rural areas may make well below $50,000 a year. The doctors that serve the most well-to-do areas of successful cities sometimes report earning well over $1 million a year.
It is expected that the job growth rate for family practitioners will be around 24% over the next decade, which is faster than most other professions. The salaries of family practitioners are also expected to increase, as the cost of healthcare is expected to continue to rise.
A lot of a family doctor's salary is also determined by what procedures they are able to perform. For example, a doctor that is able to offer prenatal care and deliver babies will earn more than a doctor in the same area, with the same type of patients, who is not able to perform that service.