Although the term "general practitioner," or GP, may have slightly different meanings in different countries throughout the world, in most cases, it refers to family doctors who treat acute and chronic diseases and provide preventative healthcare and education. They are often patients' only doctors, treating them throughout their lives, for conditions that don't require specialist care. One of the main general practitioner jobs is to provide follow-up and maintenance care, sometimes in consultation with a treating specialist.
The main general practitioner jobs are the treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. Acute illnesses refer to those that happen suddenly and, generally, have a short course, such as the flu. They usually require a single visit to the GP who will prescribe medication, if necessary. Chronic illnesses refer to those that are long-term and may require lifelong therapy, such as hypertension, or high blood pressure. Again, treatment may be prescribed by the GP on a long-term basis, but regular visits to the GP to monitor therapy are recommended.
There are various specialties with general practitioner jobs. While most GPs remain as general family practitioners, some GPs may choose to specialize into a certain sector of general practice. There are a large number of branches of medicine including geriatric medicine dealing with the elderly, adolescent medicine and sleep medicine. Some general practitioner jobs are aimed at a specific gender, such as women's or men's health. In these cases the GP focuses on that specific aspect of medicine.
As mentioned above, the scope of general practitioner jobs is broad. Not only does it include the treatment of patients, but preventative treatment and education play a major role. In general, it is advised that people go to their GP at least once a year for a general medical check-up. The GP will do a range of tests to check overall health and to pick up any warning signs of problems. These will include blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose tests. Women may have a PAP smear and breast examination and men have their prostate examined.
When these diagnostic tests are done, the GP may educate the patient on how to prevent diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. This will include advice on lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, increased exercise and decreasing stress. The general practitioner's jobs are widely encompassing — it's not only about diagnosis and giving medicine, but also about preventing disease and promoting a healthier lifestyle.