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I Can Do What in Family Medicine

Written by: Rebecca Lewis







Many people hear the words “family medicine” and think of a doctor practicing in a clinic and seeing patients in the same three rooms day in and day out.  While this may be how some practice, this is not the limit of a family physician! 

Family physicians are thoroughly trained in pediatrics, internal medicine and OB.  What can one do with that? Follow along and you will see some of the out of the box things that you can do...but are not limited to...with training in family medicine.

Hospitalist: Hospitals LOVE to get family physicians as hospitalists because you can also see inpatient pediatric patients.  You are essentially two doctors in one person (and one salary to keep on payroll).  Many family doctors working in hospitals run cardiac codes, manage their own ICU patients, place their own central lines, and do their own procedures like paracentesis, intubations and colonoscopies.

Sports Medicine: Many family doctors do sports medicine.  You can even complete a one-year fellowship and get a CAQ (Certificate of Added Qualification) in it, but that's another blog all together. With an emphasis in sports medicine, you  could serve as a team doctor, cast and splint patients in your clinic, or even be a ringside MMA fight doc!

Obstetrics: Family doctors are fully trained to deliver babies, perform OB ultrasound, and even learn to do Cesarean sections if they choose.  This is another area that you can do an additional one-year fellowship and get a CAQ.  In rural communities, fellowships are often not required though they may be in the larger urban settings.  The best part about delivering babies as a family physician is that you can see the babies afterward.  There is nothing cooler than having a pediatric patient that you delivered walk up to you and give you a hug a few years later.

Wound Care: Many wound care clinics are being run by family physicians.  By working with other family doctors doing the same thing and completing some extra workshop training in wound care, you can help patients recover from their diabetic foot wounds, burns and crush injuries with wound debridement, hyperbaric oxygen and some of the newer skin grafting procedures.

Emergency Medicine/Urgent Care:  Family docs all over America are working in ERs treating emergencies and acute illnesses.  Though not official fellowships with CAQs, there are some fellowships out there for family physicians.  This is also something that in smaller cities and in the rural setting a fellowship is not required.  Urgent care is another area that many family physicians are thriving.  This is a great setting to get the taste of acute illnesses, especially if chronic condition management is not for you.

Ambulatory Medicine: This is the classic clinic-based medicine; however, one should note that a family physician working in the outpatient setting is not limited to writing scripts all day.  A family doctor is trained to do a number of procedures including (but not limited to) skin biopsies, laceration repair, cryotherapy, colposcopy, IUD/hormonal implant insertion and removal, vasectomies, toenail removal and much more!

Academics: There is no better way to be a teacher in either a school or residency setting that to be trained in family medicine and be able to impart all of the above knowledge to the newest generation of physicians!

As you can see, family medicine is a blank canvas on which you get to paint the picture.  There truly is no other specialty that is as flexible as family medicine!  Still have questions? Email one of our mentors at exploremore@acofp.org to learn more!


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