A family doctor is a physician who has completed formal education and training in family practice. Family doctors treat acute and chronic illnesses, create health awareness for all age groups, take care of hospitalized patients, perform surgery, attend deliveries, as well as deal with common problems like the common cold. As part of the residency, the family doctor is taught how to treat an individual throughout life.

In the United States, in contrast to a general practitioner, a family doctor needs to complete a residency period of three years in family medicine. This is apart from undergraduate and doctoral studies that make a physician eligible for certification by The American Board of Family Medicine.

Today, family doctors are expected to augment their skill and knowledge base through constant learning and attending competency tests. They can also take additional qualification in various fields of medicine.

One of the benefits of having a family doctor is their willingness to listen, their expertise in your own unique needs, and their ability to understand how all the different medical sub-fields relate to each other. They can be considered a holistic health practitioner with regards to you. They can often play counselor for basic psychological needs, and are able to refer youo to an expert whenever the need arises.

The other benefit to a family doctor is that he or she is aware of your family health history, as well as the health needs of your immediate family. This way, they can recommend and administer treatments to your entire family as a system.

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