What is Family Medicine? | One Healthy Boston

Primary Care

What is Family Medicine?

Family medicine practitioners not only care for their patients, but for their families as well.  It is common to care for generations of patients within a family, which allows family medicine practitioners are able to provide personalized, contextualized care for everyone in the family.

Primary Care with a Personal Touch

Like most primary care providers, family medicine practitioners are advocates for their patients’ preventative care and continuing wellness. They are responsible for annual checkups, maintaining up-to-date vaccinations and managing both chronic conditions and acute illnesses. A majority of family practitioners are trained in minor surgical and outpatient procedures, allowing them to provide initial care for major cuts or wounds, bone injuries, and skin conditions. Some family doctors are also trained in labor and delivery.

Patients often choose family medicine practitioners because of the emphasis they place on treating the patient as a whole, incorporating physical, emotional, mental and behavioral health into each aspect of their primary care approach. Family medicine is one of the only medical disciplines that focuses on caring for patients at every stage of life, from birth to advanced adult age.

Because family practitioners typically follow their patients throughout the entire course of their lives, they get to know each patient on an intimate level. As a result, they have the unique ability to see patients in the context of their unique lifestyles, family histories and at each phase of their physical, mental and emotional development.

Generations of Insight

While family practitioners focus on treating each patient as an individual, they also have the unique advantage of knowing their patients’ family history first-hand. Many practitioners see patients that are members of the same family, and can sometimes treat up to three or four generations at once. Getting to know a patient’s grandparents, parents or children provides them with an unmatched level of insight into a family’s medical history.

This insight can be used to predict and prevent the onset of historic problems, and to closely manage genetic disorders or hereditary conditions as well. Additionally, this added personal connection allows doctors to make more informed decisions about preventative care initiatives, to optimize treatment plans and to create highly-individualized continuous care programs for their patients.

Patients are often more comfortable with family practitioners because of these generations of trust and transparency between their doctor and their family. As a result, they may be more likely to open up about their personal health concerns, and to continue viewing their doctor as an ally and advocate for their entire family.

Finding a Practitioner

Many patients are referred to a family medicine practitioner by a friend or, not surprisingly, by a family member. However, there are a variety of online resources which can help you search for family practitioners in the Boston area.

South Shore Health provides patients with access to a highly-collaborative team of primary care providers who specialize in family medicine. The family medicine department is designed to address the specific needs of each patient, and to support the health initiatives of South Shore Health’s surrounding communities as well.

Family medicine physicians operate under a co-practice model, where each doctor is paired with an advanced practitioner that is available for added consult and patient support. Each family medicine provider also has a dedicated team of nurses so that patients have access to consistent, personalized and comprehensive care at all times.

Visit southshorehealth.org to find a family medicine practitioner or to learn more about South Shore Health’s variety of primary care programs.


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