What is a Family Doctor?

Family doctors provide front-line health care that is accessible, high quality, comprehensive and continuous over time for people of all ages, life stages, backgrounds and conditions. They care for individuals and for entire families, from birth through the end of life. As a partner in your health, family doctors offer:

  • Preventive care, including immunizations, screening tests for cancer and other conditions, and counseling on how to stop smoking, eat a proper diet, exercise and other ways to have a healthy lifestyle
  • Acute care, for a broad range of problems such as respiratory illness, urinary tract infections, sprains or strains, skin rashes, emergency care, etc.
  • Care of many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and depression
  • Referral and coordination of care with other doctors who may be needed for specialty care

With a family doctor, you will find a personal medical home where your health and medical needs are considered in the context of your life situation, culture, and personal goals. More than separate episodes of care, it is through the relationship you and your family have with your family doctor over time that allows you to receive the care that is best for your health.

For more information about family doctors, here is a short video for your viewing: 


Why Is Choosing a Board-Certified Family doctor the Best Decision for Your Family’s Health?

When you or a family member needs health care or medical treatment, you want a highly qualified doctor dedicated to providing outstanding care. Not all family doctors are board-certified. When you choose a family doctor who is board-certified, you can be confident  that doctor is skilled and knowledgeable in the specialty and meets a higher standard.

Board certification is more than just having a medical license. Board Certification is a voluntary process that demonstrates a family doctor’s commitment to meeting a higher standard. In addition to graduating from medical school, board-certified family doctors have completed an additional three years of training at an accredited family medicine residency program and have passed a test given by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).

To maintain their board certification, family doctors must continue to update their knowledge, participate in continuous professional development, demonstrate that they are improving the care they provide, and consistently meet standards of professionalism. By meeting the requirements of continuous certification, family doctors are making a concerted effort to stay up to date and to sustain and improve the quality of care they provide.


What is the American Board of Family Medicine?

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1969 to provide independent assessment of the qualifications of specialists in family medicine. The ABFM offers primary board certification in family medicine, and additional certifications in sports medicine, geriatric medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, adolescent medicine, sleep medicine, and pain medicine. Over 92,000 family doctors are currently board-certified by the ABFM.

The ABFM is one of the 24-member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Other ABMS member boards provide board certification in other specialties, such as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and many other specialties.


How Does Board Certification Affect You and Your Family?

Patients want the best care for themselves and their families. In fact, more than four out of five people surveyed say that certification status is an important factor for choosing a doctor—second only to whether the doctor is covered by their insurance. Evidence shows that doctors who maintain their ABFM board certification provide better patient care.  For patients, knowing that the doctors who treat them and their family members are board-certified instills peace of mind and confidence, especially at a time when they may be worried or upset.


How Can You Find Out if Your Family Doctor is Board-Certified?  

Selecting a family doctor may be one of the most important decisions you'll make in your lifetime. How do you know if your doctor is qualified to provide the best care possible? Find out if your doctor is board-certified and maintaining their certification.