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Dr. Kennedy Family Practice doctors (FPs) are medical doctors who provide primary care to all age groups, referring out to other specialists on occasion. They treat acute and chronic illnesses, provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes. They evolved out of the tradition of general practice where they cared for hospitalized patients and sometimes performed minor surgery and obstetrics. Many FPs do some minor procedures, e.g. removal of skin lesions, in their offices. In the past, General Practitioners (GPs) frequently carried out more major surgery, such as tonsillectomies, hernia repairs, and appendectomies. In the more rural parts of the U.S. this style of medical practice continues. However, throughout much of the world in the last few decades, there has been an increase in the number and type of medical specialists, and it is uncommon to find FPs performing major surgery in these times.

While from a legal standpoint, doctors are licensed to practice medicine right out of medical school, most choose some post-graduate training. In the case of Family Medicine there are many university medical centers which offer outstanding training programs. The numbers of docs in FP is dwindling, however.

In the U.S. family practioners usually complete an undergraduate degree and then complete either the M.D. degree Doctor of Medicine or a D.O. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. A physician who specializes in family medicine (also known as a family physician), however, must then complete an additional three-year family medicine residency, and is eligible for board certification which is now required by most hospitals and health plans. In 1969 Family Medicine (formerly known as Family Practice) was recognized as a distinct specialty in the U.S. Board-certified family physicians take a written examination every six, seven, nine, or ten years to remain board certified, depending on what track they choose regarding the maintenance of their certification. Three hundred hours of continuing medical education within the prior six years is also required to be eligible to sit for the exam.

A family physician is board-certified in family medicine. Training is focused on treating an individual throughout all of his or her life stages. Family physicians will see anyone with any problem, and are experts in common problems. Many family physicians deliver babies in addition to taking care of patients of all ages.

According to Wikipedia, between 2003 and 2009 the board certification process was changed in family medicine and all other American Specialty Boards to a continuous series of yearly competency tests on differing areas within the given specialty. The American Board of Family Medicine, as well as other specialty boards, are requiring additional participation in continuous learning and self-assessment to enhance clinical knowledge, expertise, and skills. The Board has created a program called the "Maintenance of Certification Program for Family Physicians" (MC-FP) which will require family physicians to continuously demonstrate proficiency in four areas of clinical practice: professionalism, self assessment/lifelong learning, cognitive expertise, and performance in practice. Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQs) in adolescent medicine, geriatric medicine, or sports medicine are available for those board certified family physicians who meet additional training and testing requirements. Additionally, fellowships are available for family physicians in adolescent medicine, geriatrics, sports medicine, rural medicine, faculty development, hospitalist, obstetrics, research, and preventative medicine.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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