Having one doctor or doctor's office that serves your entire family can be helpful to both children and adults. There are many benefits of working with a family practice doctor, which is why they are gaining in popularity.
Family Practice vs. General Practice
Choosing the right doctor for your family starts with understanding what differentiates one doctor from another. Before choosing any doctor, patients should ask about their training background and certifications.
The term "family practice" is now commonly referred to as "family medicine" and includes doctors certified in the specialty to provide care in all areas for all ages. Dr. Kevin Gebke, Family and Sports Medicine Physician from Indiana University Health shares he became a family physician "based on a belief that it provided the best training base to care for all people in the community." You can find individual family physicians and offices that house several family medicine professionals.
General practice doctors are quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to medical training regulations. Dr. Gebke says this term used to describe a physician who had not completed a residency in a specific field. Today, however, all physicians should complete a residency and be board certified. Some doctors may be board eligible, but not certified yet and could loosely be considered general practice physicians until they become board certified.
Top Reasons to Choose a Family Practice
Once you've determined a doctor is properly credentialed to provide family care, the choice "really comes down to relationships, access, and quality of care metrics," according to Dr. Gebke. It's a personal decision you and your family must make, but there are plenty of reasons to choose family medicine.
Broad Medical Training
Family physicians are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat a wide variety of health concerns for people of any age. This limits the number of doctors and offices a family sees to meet their unique needs. Family physicians often only provide outpatient care, but offer care in areas of sub-specialization training such as:
Longevity of Care
One of the biggest draws of a family medicine doctor is that all members of the family can go to one location for routine healthcare from childhood to adulthood. Over time, your family physician will have comprehensive knowledge of your medical history and your family's so they can provide the best care. You'll also develop a more personal relationship and rapport with the doctor as you grow.
"Most patients will choose convenience over loyalty to a physician," shares Dr. Gebke. The ability to take your kids or your parents to the same office provides optimum convenience for many families in addition to the following factors.
- Health insurance coverage - In-network providers who are not considered specialists are often the most affordable option.
- Location - Family medicine practices are common even in small towns.
- Back-to-back appointments - Often you can schedule several appointments at the same time or in a row to have everyone seen in one day for preventive appointments like an annual physical.
Avoid Poor Care During Transitions
As you age, your healthcare needs change. Patients moving from one type of doctor's office to another could lose quality care as they transition because of the time it takes to transfer records and get acquainted with the new doctor. A family physician eliminates the need for these transitions because they can see you and meet your needs at every age from birth to old age.
Family Care With a Family Feel
A family medicine physician offers healthcare geared explicitly toward the needs of families with children. However, they can also meet the needs of kids, adults, and seniors on an individual basis.