Family Vs. General Practice: What Is The Difference?

Perhaps you aren't feeling well and you want to visit the doctor; or perhaps your child has a cough or a slight fever and you want reassurance that your child is okay. Regardless of your reasons, you want to see a doctor. On your search for an ideal doctor to visit, you run into a dilemma: family practice vs. general practice.

Choosing a doctor is a big decision—and unfortunately, oftentimes it is a confusing decision to make. With all the different doctor titles floating around, it is easy to get confused. So what is the difference between a family practice physician and a general practice physician?

Family Practice Physician: A Doctor for Your Entire Family

In general, a family practice physician will treat people of all ages—from infants to the elderly. A family doctor can also treat a wide range of ailments and injuries, including chronic issues. Sometimes, they may even assist with childbirth and hospice-type functions.

A family practitioner is essentially a doctor that can diagnose and treat basic issues and ailments within the entire body, on people of any age. They usually work closely with entire families and have a strong grasp of the family's health history.

These doctors will also usually do an internship and residency with a focus on childcare and pediatrics, as opposed to internal medicine.

General Practice Physician: A Doctor for Adults

A general practice physician usually only diagnoses and treats aliments on adults. Like family practitioners, they can diagnose and treat a wide variety of issues and ailments within the body—and in any organ. They, too, can work with chronic and terminal illnesses.

Unlike family practitioners, a general doctor will often refer patients to specialists for more complex issues. They also do an internship and residency, but it usually focuses on general internal medicine.

Similarities in Both

Both a family practice and general practice physician can treat and diagnose adults. They are both also required to complete an internship and a 3-year residency to obtain their license. In the end, you can visit either of these doctors if you have an illness, injury, or ailment—as long as you are an adult.

Which Is the Better Choice?

In America, there is very little difference between a family and general practice doctor. Unless you have children or a large family—and you want everyone in your family to visit the same doctor—either option is a good choice for you.