Introduction to Family Medicine / General Practice

Table of Contents

What is general practice / family medicine ? 

‘In the increasingly fragmented world of health care, one thing remains constant: family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focusing on integrated care.’ AAFP

‘General practice is a unique discipline of largely relationship-based specialist medical care providing person-centred, continuing, comprehensive and coordinated whole person healthcare to individuals and families in their community.’ RACGP

General practice / family medicine is an academic and scientific discipline, with its own educational content, research, evidence base and clinical activity, and a clinical specialty orientated to primary care. European-Wonca


• It’s a discipline that is relationship-based and focused on person-centered care

• It’s the PERSON who has the disease that is important than the DISEASE the person has

• Cuts across the physical-psychological-social lines that separates the disciplines

• Defining the discipline in terms of relationships sets it apart from most other disciplines

• (McWinney 3 Ed. Ch. 2. Section – implications of the principles)

Primary care and Family Medicine

  • •  The AAFP recognizes the term “primary care” and that family physicians provide services commonly recognized as primary care.
  • •  However, the terms, “primary care” and “family medicine” are not interchangeable.
  • •  “Primary care” does not fully describe the activities of family physicians nor the practice of family medicine.
  • •  Similarly, primary care departments do not replace the form or function of family medicine departments.Primary Care – AAFP Policies

Primary care and Family Medicine

• ‘Although key components of primary care, family medicine and primary care are not identical concepts. Family physicians in different countries work with other primary care professionals in a variety of arrangements. Because of the international divergence in primary care structure, we wish to clarify that the target discipline of this paper is family medicine……’

Improving health care globally. Van Weel C. Rosser W. Ann Fam Med 2004;2(Suppl 2):S5-S16.



Classics in Family Medicine articles