How do I Become a Family Practice Physician?

N. Madison
N. Madison

To become a family practice physician usually requires a firm commitment to extended training and education. A person interested in pursuing this career usually completes high school and spends about four years in college, earning a bachelor’s degree. After college, a person who wants to become a family practice physician typically completes medical school, followed by a three-year residency specializing in family medicine. Basically, a residency is on-the-job training for doctors and usually takes place in a hospital or medical office.

Family practice physicians provide primary care to patients of all ages.
Family practice physicians provide primary care to patients of all ages.

A family practice physician is a doctor who is trained and qualified to treat patients of all ages and both genders. They handle the general care of their patients, treating them for a wide range of conditions and illnesses rather than focusing on one particular organ or a single type of disease. These doctors often manage all of a patient’s care, including prevention of illnesses, treatment of conditions, and general health monitoring. When a patient needs specialized care, however, this type of doctor may refer him to a specialist. He may even coordinate his patient’s care when an entire team of doctors is required.

A person who wants to become a family practice physician may start preparing in high school. He can take advanced math and science courses, which may help him handle the rigorous coursework he’ll face in college and medical school. Composition courses may prove helpful in developing his written communication skills, and public-speaking courses or debate clubs may help him build verbal communication skills. Some aspiring doctors volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities while they’re still in high school or during college. This may help them get acclimated to a health care environment, and it typically looks good on college and medical school applications.

In college, a person who wants to become a family practice physician may pursue any bachelor’s degree, but majoring in science or pre-medicine is usually considered a good idea. This part of an aspiring doctor’s education usually takes about four years to complete. With a favorable grade point average (GPA) and high medical school entrance exam scores, a person interested in this field may gain admission to medical school, which usually takes another four years to complete. Medical school typically includes classroom work, labs, and hands-on medical care work under the supervision of a doctor.

The final steps for someone who wants to become a family doctor typically include completing a three-year residency at a hospital. This training is provided on the job and prepares the aspiring doctor for caring for his patients without supervision. Additionally, an aspiring family doctor typically has to pass his jurisdiction’s licensing exam.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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