Family Medicine

Family medicine, formerly Family Practice, is a medical specialty devoted to comprehensive health care for people of all ages; the specialist is named a family physician, family doctor, or formerly family practitioner. It is a division of primary care that provides continuing and comprehensive health care for the individual and family across all ages, genders, diseases, and parts of the body. Family physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic and preventive medical care services.

In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, they also provide preventive care, including:

  • Routine checkups
  • Health-risk assessments
  • Immunization and screening tests
  • Personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Family physicians also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other subspecialists.


Physicians who specialize in family medicine must successfully complete an accredited three-year family medicine residency in the United States in addition to their medical degree. They are then eligible to sit for a board certification examination. The American Board of Family Medicine requires its physicians to maintain certification through an ongoing process of continuing medical education, medical knowledge review, patient care oversight through chart audits, practice-based learning through quality improvement projects and retaking the board certification examination every 7 to 10 years.

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