Your family doctor is the general practitioner who is responsible for their patients' overall well-being. As opposed to other doctors who specialize in a field, your family doctor has a broad area of expertise that is just enough to be able to treat some problems on their own, or refer patients to a specialist when needed. In this way, family doctors are the cornerstone of your overall health care plan.

Family doctors' primary job is to care for the whole person. From ears, eyes, nose, and throat down to the ankles and feet, they do it all. As the title would suggest, they're also trained to treat any gender and any age of patient. This makes a visit to a family doctor very convenient, as you can typically schedule several members of your family together for a checkup.

Some of the duties of a family doctor include:

  • Sinus and respiratory care.
  • Gynecology care.
  • Managing chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
  • Managing mental and behavioral health.
  • Administering vaccinations.
  • Performing minor surgeries.
  • Minor emergency and first aid care.
  • Check-ups, maintenance, and preventative medicine.

These are more "well-patient" care functions than anything else. If a larger problem should arise, a family doctor will refer you to the specialist needed to treat the in-depth problem. For instance, in the presentation of a severe mental issue, your family doctor would refer you to a psychologist or therapist. Family doctors are the first line of defense, keeping you healthy enough that you shouldn't need major medical attention. If you do need more advanced care, they also serve as a coordinator between the other specialists, throughout the course of anything from a pregnancy to a major surgery.

Family doctors typically undergo a formal three-year residency following medical school, and undergo continuing medical education at the rate of about 150 hours per decade. The scope of their training includes pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics, psychiatry, geriatrics, and emergency medicine. They also have the support of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Since a family doctor can't do their job properly without having all the information, you should consider telling your family doctor about any problems or concerns you have with your health. They can always be your first point of reference before consulting with other specialists if you need to. Don't be shy about asking anything, no matter how silly, because a family doctor like Thiele Kim DO PC is responsible for your emotional health as well as mental and physical health.