Doctors specializing in family medicine treat patients at every stage of life. That means your whole family can see the same doctor and enjoy all the benefits that come with working with one provider. While some of those benefits seem obvious — like convenience and the desire for a physician to know your family holistically — other reasons you might choose a family practitioner are more surprising.
Learn more about how family medicine physicians can positively impact the health of your family so you can make an informed decision when it’s time to choose a health care provider.
Family Medicine Physicians Ensure a Whole-Person Approach to Care
Rather than specializing in one disease or specialty, a family doctor is trained in all areas of medicine, allowing them to provide whole-person care at every stage of life. That includes caring for your family’s physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as treating acute and chronic illnesses and counseling on preventative lifestyle changes.
Family medicine doctors are committed to knowing you personally, listening to your unique concerns and needs and documenting your health history. They can coordinate all aspects of care, refer you to specialists when needed and find cost-effective health care solutions so you can make confident decisions for your family.
Family Medicine Physicians Cover a Wide Scope of Services
A family medicine doctor can address most health care concerns and should be the first point of contact for acute, chronic and preventative health needs, including:
- Basic testing and assessments
- Bone and joint care
- Ear, nose and throat care
- Elderly care
- Emergency medical care
- Eye care
- Infant care
- Lifestyle counseling
- Mental and behavioral health
- Minor surgical procedures
- Routine checkups
- School and sports physicals
- Treatment for chronic conditions
- Well-woman care
Family Medicine Doctors Can Treat Your Family Members at Any Age
Infants and Young Children
Unfortunately, many are unaware that family medicine doctors can care for newborns and young children. However, they are trained to treat your tiniest family members — children’s health just isn’t their sole specialty. Choosing a family doctor for your child means they could potentially see the same doctor for their entire life, providing the benefit of continuous care with a doctor who knows them and their health history in-depth.
And, if you and your child are treated by the same family physician, he or she can treat your child with an awareness of the health issues that are affecting the entire family. Family practitioners can also provide the convenience of scheduling coinciding family appointments, making it easier for everyone in the family to get the treatment they need to stay in good health.
If you’re like most parents, you may not feel sure about when your teen should see a family medicine doctor. At some point as children get older, they no longer see themselves as little kids. Once teens start coping with hormonal changes and other physical and mental health issues associated with young adulthood, they might not want to sit in a pediatrician’s waiting room full of toddlers, babies, toys and children’s books.
When to transition from pediatrician to family doctor is different for every kid. If your child is comfortable with their pediatrician, they should continue seeing them as long as they can. But, if your child becomes uncomfortable talking about sensitive health issues, or your pediatrician isn’t addressing topics like texting and driving, eating disorders and other issues specific to teens, you should seek a referral to a family doctor who is.
Feeling comfortable with your doctor is an essential factor for women to maintain their health. For some women, that comfort comes when they have a women’s health specialist and a family doctor. However, it can also work to rely solely on your family medicine doctors for your women’s health needs, especially if you don’t have specific gynecological concerns or issues.
If you have a good relationship with your primary care provider and prefer to streamline your medical care, a family doctor can treat common women’s health issues such as UTI’s and yeast infections, as well as conduct routine gynecological exams, including breast exams and screenings and PAP smears.
Every adult male should have a family doctor they see regularly for preventative care and routine checkups. Visiting your family doctor should be your first step in the treatment of most medical conditions, but establishing a preventative care relationship is vital because they can counsel you on how to avoid or address chronic problems, even those specific to men.
If your family medicine doctor treats other family members, they can help you anticipate potential genetic issues, like heart disease, certain cancers and high cholesterol.
As we age, our medical needs become more complex. But be assured that family medicine doctors are also a right choice for seniors. Geriatricians are board-certified family medicine doctors with special training on the health issues affecting seniors. They can provide care for the specific health issues older adults face, such as pain, incontinence, memory loss and the side effects of medication.
Family medicine physician geriatricians can also evaluate an older patient’s ability to take care of themselves on a day-to-day basis. It becomes especially crucial for older adults to seek attention from a geriatric family medicine provider when facing symptoms of serious conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Heart disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Sleep disorders
Older adults with Medicare coverage can search for geriatric family medicine doctors by visiting Medicare.gov's Physicians Compare page. Look for doctors whose locations are close to the patient’s home, because transportation can become an issue as people age, making getting to appointments more of a challenge.>
How to Find a Family Medicine Doctor
One of the most reliable ways to find a family doctor is to ask your friends and family for recommendations. You can also find a list of AdventHealth’s primary care doctors here. Once you have a list of potential physicians, check your insurance provider to see which of those doctors are in your network.
Remember, it will take time to establish a relationship with your family medicine doctor. At your first appointment, they may ask questions about your family health, medical history, lifestyle and spiritual beliefs. Be open and honest in providing this information since it will inform your personal treatment plan and support your doctor’s goal of keeping you well in body, mind and spirit. For more information on primary care with AdventHealth, click here.