A Family Physician is a health-care specialist for the whole family from birth to end-of life, often including OB care. The family physician’s care is both personal and comprehensive and not limited by age, sex, organ system or type of problem, be it biological, behavioral or social.
The family physician functions as the patient’s means of entry into the health care system and as the physician of first contact in most situations. This puts the family physician in a position to form a unique bond with their patients. This care is based on knowledge of the patient in the context of the family and the community, emphasizing disease prevention and health promotion. When referral is indicated, the family physician refers the patient to other specialists or caregivers but remains the coordinator of the patient’s health care. This prevents fragmentation of that care in both the outpatient and inpatient settings. The family physician serves as the patient’s advocate in dealing with other medical professionals, third party payers, employers and others and as such is a cost-effective coordinator of the patient’s health services.