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Difference Between General Practice and Family Practice

General Practice vs Family Practice

Many may become confused in discerning two types of medical doctors: a physician who is an expert in general practice and another which is more involved in family practice. The cause of the confusion is probably due to the different interpretations that some nations attach to the two.

Basically, a GP, or general practitioner, is a medical doctor who renders generic primary health care. As such, he treats both chronic and acute disorders in patients. He is also tasked with providing health education and implementing preventive care among susceptible or at-risk individuals across all ages and sexes. They can also help address multiple health problems present in a single patient.

Some reports concerning about the origin of general practice claim that as early as the 1800s, general practitioners already existed to answer house calls for medical concerns, perform surgeries, and even deliver newborns. No wonder the title of general practitioner (GP) is given to them; it is because they practice in many areas of medicine.

At the time up to the 1970s, general practitioners were the same as family practitioners because there was still no separate specialty for family medicine. So they have less educational requirements in terms of years as compared to other more reputable specialties. After completing a medical degree, one can immediately proceed to take the internship of one year and start practicing medicine as a GP after that.

Back then, many had given less professional regard to general practitioners than the more specialized doctors. So there was the move to make a specialty particularly for general practitioners. It was only in 1969 where a specialty in family practice had been created mostly for general practitioners. From that point onward, there was a continued boom in the number of family practitioners. In the early part of the 1980s, family practice became the third biggest medical specialization in the U.S. It was only in 2004 when the title of family practitioner was switched to family physician.

Today, in order for one to become a family practitioner in the U.S., one needs to finish the basic undergrad degree and proceed in taking the M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree or the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). After becoming an M.D. or D.O., one would need to complete another three- or four-year residency in family medicine in order for him or her to be board certified as a family practitioner. A family practitioner can operate as a solo physician, part of a group of M.D.’s, or serve under a bigger hospital institution as a regular employee or consultant.


1.General practice is a field in medicine that requires less years of education and medical training than family practice.
2.Those who practice general practice medicine are called GPs or general practitioners while those who practice family practice are regarded as family practitioners or family physicians.
3.Family practice is a specialty field in medicine.
4.Family practice is treated with greater respect than general practice.

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