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Family And General Practitioner Career

Career Description

A family and general practitioner career involves providing treatment for health problems to the general population. Most practitioners have regular, long-term patients and they can treat a number of ailments from a simple cold to a broken bone. Usually, if special care or treatment is needed, general practitioners often may patients to specialists.

What Do They Do?

Family physicians and general practitioners usually carry out the following tasks:

  • Prescribe medicine or carry out therapy;
  • Refer patients to specialists, if required;
  • Prescribe laboratory tests and analyze results to diagnose diseases;
  • Perform procedures such as minor surgeries, deliveries and putting on casts;
  • Discuss preventive measures with patients for managing their health;
  • Complete paperwork required by government or insurance agencies; and
  • Monitor a patient’s progress and re-evaluate medical prescription and diagnosis.

Educational and Training Requirements

To take up a family and general practitioner career, you need to have a bachelor’s degree with certain science subjects and then enter into medical school. Here, you will spend the first two years in laboratories and classrooms learning about anatomy, medicines, biochemistry, taking medical history, examining patients and making diagnosis. The next two years will be spent working in hospitals and clinics under licensed physicians. After graduating from medical school, you will need to complete a hospital residency in family and general medicine which can last from three to five years.

You may also join the military and gain advanced training during service.

License and Certification

All states require general practitioners to obtain a license. For this, all family and general practitioners need to clear an exam after graduating from medical school to obtain their license. They are also required to take one to seven years of medical education at a graduate level.

With the exception of some states, a license to work in another state can be obtained without further examination. All non-US practitioners need to complete a US residency and clear the requisite examination.

For certification in a specialty, you may need up to seven years of residency. Immediately after this or a year or two of practice, you need to take an American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) administered examination.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly pay in a family and general practitioner career was $85.26 in May 2011 while the average annual pay was $177,330.

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