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Department of Family Medicine, VCU Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Family Medicine and Population Health Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center

VCU Department of Family Medicine

Patient care

What does a family physician do?

Doctor taking a patient's blood pressureWhat do family physicians do, and why are they so important?

Trained in all areas of medicine, family physicians can diagnose and treat the full range of problems people typically bring to their doctors. They know how to care for you and, if necessary, when to bring in another specialist you can trust.

Family physicians are experts in prevention, treating most acute illnesses and helping people effectively manage chronic medical problems. They are at the center of your care, coordinating and guiding you through what can be a very confusing and fragmented health care system. Regular visits to a family physician have even been shown to lower the overall costs of health care and improve the health of the people they serve when compared to similar groups who only receive care from subspecialists.

Family physicians are also the only medical specialists who practice everywhere that Americans live and in a relatively equal proportion. They are the backbone of the community health system and are trained to take care of most health care needs, regardless of age or gender. If it were not for family physicians currently in practice, the majority of counties in the U.S. would become health professions shortage areas.

Most importantly, your family physician is trained to provide comprehensive care through all the stages of your life. They take care of the physical, mental and emotional health of both their patients and their patients’ families and they know your family’s health history and how it can affect you.