A general medicine practice is a medical practice which provides a broad spectrum of basic care to patients with both acute and chronic conditions. In many regions of the world, a general practitioner acts as the primary physician for a patient, providing referrals as necessary if a patient develops medical issues which the practitioner does not feel comfortable for handling. For example, if a pediatric patient developed leukemia, he or she would be referred to an oncologist for treatment.
The scope of a general medicine practice is broad. The physicians who work for the practice may have specialized in family medicine or internal medicine, and they can often care for patients in all life stages, from infancy to old age. Rather than focusing on a particular medical specialty such as the cardiovascular system or the brain, a general practitioner knows a great deal about a large number of things, which allows the practitioner to provide care or referrals to patients with a variety of conditions, concerns, and medical issues.
At a general medicine practice, patients can receive routine physicals, annual exams, sports physicals, and treatment for an array of basic conditions, ranging from strep throat to asthma. If a patient develops complications, or presents with a challenging medical condition which could require the attention of a specialist, the practice will refer the patient as needed. The practice can also be involved in the long-term management of patients after they have stabilized by specialists.
General practitioners are very skilled in managing chronic conditions, and in helping patients who are dealing with multiple medical issues which require distinctly different treatments and precautions. An average day in a general medicine practice can be quite diverse, with patients ranging from a child with an ear infection to an elderly patient who is concerned about menopause symptoms. Practitioners are often required to think creatively and quickly, and they need to be able to think outside the box for their patients.
Many patients pick a general medicine practice and stick with it for all medical care throughout their lives or until they move to a new location. In many regions of the world, specialists will not see patients without a referral from a general medicine practice which indicates that the patient has been examined and that he or she has a condition which requires the attention of a specialist. Practitioners at a general medicine practice can include doctors, registered nurses, physician's assistants, and various technicians.