Family medicine is also known as general practice, where a physician treats the whole person versus one particular part of the body like a specialist would. The field of family medicine practitioners is growing rapidly, with it being ranked as the top profession in terms of job growth and salary. The average family medicine practitioner earns over $175,000 per year.
With times changing and everything becoming more electronic, the area of family medicine is also changing quickly. More practitioners are adapting the patient-centered medical home model (PCMH) which focuses on comprehensive, patient-centered care. Practitioners that follow this model focus on the patient’s physical and mental health needs, often with a team of other providers.
The team of providers may include nurse practitioners, nutritionists, pharmacists, social workers, and other providers. They may be under one building, or spread out throughout the community and linked virtually with the general practitioner. The primary doctor also helps coordinate care for the patient with specialists, hospitals, and other supportive care practices.
In the past, a patient would have had to rely on their general practitioner for all their needs. The patient-centered medical home model allows a patient to receive the specialized care they need under the umbrella of their general practitioner’s office. This is especially helpful when a patient is in the hospital or home health care because the general practitioner helps coordinate care for the patient with physicians across the medical community.
The patient-centered medical home model also has a strong focus on accessible services for the patient, with longer hours and shorter wait times. A patient also has around-the-clock access to a provider, either by phone or electronically. Many practitioners now use electronic records, which enables them to communicate test results and other information via an online portal.
In the 1960s, Dr. Eugene Farley founded the field of family medicine practitioners, with the goal of creating practitioners that treat the whole person, not just their physical ailments. Farley wanted practitioners to also focus on the social, economic, and family stresses that patients face, so that they could create a more connected society.
By many practitioners adopting the patient-centered medical home model, Dr. Farley’s dream of building a generation of practitioners that focus on the whole patient is that much closer to being realized.