Family practice is a medical specialty that focuses on providing comprehensive health care for individuals and families. It integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences, and is not limited by the patient's age, sex, organ system or entity of the disease. Family doctors are a type of primary care doctor who provide ongoing care for the whole family. They are trained to maintain the health of patients of all ages, from newborns to geriatric patients.
Family practice is different from general practice in that it covers all ages, both sexes, each organ system and each pathological entity. Providers include family doctors, physician assistants and professional family nurses. Primary care not only treats the patient when they are sick, but it works with the patient when they are healthy to establish strong health maintenance skills through the practice of disease prevention and health education. The American Board of Family Medicine requires its graduates to maintain certification through an ongoing process of continuing medical education, review of medical knowledge, oversight of patient care through cadre audits, practice-based learning through quality improvement projects and retake the exam board certification every 7 to 10 years.
In India, the Government is now promoting the practice of family medicine by introducing postgraduate training through DNB (National Diploma Board) programs. The structure of the primary care practice may include a team of doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Family physicians play a very important role in providing affordable and universal health care to individuals.