A general practitioner (GP) or family doctor provides the principal and continuing medical care for patients and is usually the first contact for patients needing health and medical services. As such, general practitioners are not limited to one branch of medicine. They are responsible for performing checkups, diagnosing illnesses, giving recommendations, making a preliminary diagnosis, and referring the patient to a specialist for further assessment or treatment if needed. General practitioners usually put up specialist clinics alongside other health care professionals within the practice for patients with specific conditions. Partners in a practice may also expand their careers and specialize in a specific area of medicine.
A general practitioner should be able to respond to health problems presented by patients including their history taking, diagnosis of the illness, treatment for the patient and referral to other experts that are deemed appropriate to the patient. He usually plans, implements or administers health programs for information, prevention, or treatment of injury or illnesses; prepares reports of statistics for government or management; promotes health education concerning diet, hygiene, and disease prevention.; collects, records, and maintains patient information; explains procedures and discusses test results with patients; refers patients to medical specialists when necessary; provides specialized clinics for specific conditions like diabetes, smoking cessation, new babies; and keeps up to date with medical development, new drugs, treatments and medications.
Education and Training Requirements
After receiving the doctor of medicine, one must fulfill a one- to three-year residency at an accredited hospital where they are actively involved in patient treatment. At the end of an accredited residency program, physicians must pass licensure examinations administered by their state’s board of medical.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
A general practitioner must always have a positive attitude toward patients. He must be committed to lifelong education, as medicine is constantly changing. In addition, a GP should have the stamina to work long and irregular hours. A passion to help people is a must as well as be sensitive enough to understand the needs of the patient. Good communication skills are also needed to be able to inspire confidence and trust from patients and families as well as from staff members.
These types of doctors have flexible schedules in their irregular work hours as they are usually on-call and work by appointment. It is also common for a general practitioner to work more than 60 hours in a week. General practitioners work in offices, labs, examining rooms and operating rooms, which are well lighted, well ventilated and well equipped. Bookkeepers, secretaries, lab technician or nurses usually assist general practitioners in their day-to-day job.
Physicians have among the highest annual earnings with a mean annual income of $140,400. Those affiliated with a group practice as well as those with establish patient bases and reputations earn significantly higher salaries. Only those who are employed by an HMO, clinic, or other organizations may receive a benefits package including insurance and paid time off.