House Call: What does your family doctor do?
As a young medical student, there are many options available to choose from as far as specialties go. If you prefer hands-on, then often surgery is the best choice. If you love kids, then pediatrics could be the field for you. Do you want to bring new life into the world? Take a look at obstetrics or many other fields. Now, imagine you love many different things. What would you do? The answer is family medicine.
Your family medicine doctor can take care of newborns, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. We are the first line in the promotion of preventive health care and often care for entire families. Some of your children may have been delivered by a family medicine physician, or maybe a loved one was admitted to the hospital and was cared for by a family medicine doctor.
What does it take to become a family medicine physician? Our training is similar to others, as you go to college for four years, then medical school for four years, followed by residency training for three years. During residency, you are exposed to everything from surgery to internal medicine, from pediatrics to obstetrics/gynecology. Your family doctor has a wide knowledge base and should be the first one to see if you have any medical concerns.
Often, your family doctor will be able to take care of most of your issues, but if your symptoms become too complicated or difficult to manage, then a specialty referral is in order. But your family doctor is the orchestrator of your health, making sure your medications are updated and do not interfere with one another and that you are cared for appropriately.
If you do not have a primary care doctor, I would like to encourage you to think about your local family medicine doctor. You will get the best of all worlds.
Dr. Laurie Marbas is a family physician at Grand River Hospital and Medical Center in Rifle.
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