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What is Family Medicine and Why Is It Important
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When someone mentions family medicine, you may imagine a doctor serving the families in a village high up in the mountains with no other road to get there but a single lane through the woods. And you won’t be far from the truth, as it is usual in distant rural areas.

It may seem like a long-gone practice from the past, but having a primary care physician who personally serves you and your family have become quite common in urban surroundings as well, as this kind of medicine goes through constant development, research, and improvement on a global scale.   

So, what is family practice? 

Comprehensive medical care

Instead of being focused on a certain type of disease or a single organ system, family medicine brings the multidisciplinary approach to an individual’s health, no matter their age, sex, physical or mental condition. It integrates biological, clinical and behavioral sciences.

Sometimes it may be confused with a general practice, as it leans on the primary care tradition, but these two specialties differ in important points.

Family medicine usually includes:

  • Pediatric and adolescent medicine
  • Pain treatment
  • Emergency medicine
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Therapeutic treatments
  • Geriatric medicine

After graduating from a medical school, family physicians need to conduct three more years of specialized residency. Residents get familiarized with a wide spectrum of specialties, and throughout the everyday practice, they become experts for the overall patient’s condition and the most usual health issues.

Diseaseprevention and health promotion

As such integrative entity, this kind of medicine puts an accent on the disease prevention as one of the primary goals. They usually provide preventive care – screening tests, risk-assessments, immunization, regular overall checkups, and counseling on keeping the lifestyle healthy. 

Relevant cross-sectional studies showed that there is a direct relationship between health advice offered by family doctors and the use of health services by patients later on. Some of the usual advice include suggesting to quit smoking, to exercise more, take long walks, sleep regularly, eat healthy food, and rise the body wellness up. 

Such direct impact wasn’t found only in results with patients who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders. And it can be completely understandable. Someone who is stressed out and cannot function well throughout the day, simply don’t seem to be able to put more effort into walks and exercises.

Health promotion may be inappropriate in certain situations, but it is up to family practitioners to find the right approach and help their patients in the best possible way.

Professionals around the world

According to the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), the aim of family medicine is to provide personal, comprehensive, and continuing care for the individual in the context of the family and the community.

However, your family practitioner doesn’t necessarily have to be a doctor from your neighborhood. There are many hospitals around the world that provide highly skilled and professional family health care to international patients.

So, the next regular checkup for you and your family might as well be somewhere abroad, to experience the benefits of comprehensive medical care within a reputable clinic.

By Alexander Eriksson
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