If anyone is going through a rough patch concerning their health, what do you suggest they do? Consult a specialist right away or talk to their family doctor? Most cases, a family doctor, right? Ever wondered why?
We always prefer to consult our family physician because he/she pays personal attention to our family health. He/she is like a close family member who always has your best interest in his mind. He attends your call even at the latest hour of the night.
Family medicine focuses on the holistic well-being of every member of a family. It emphasizes preventive treatment, including lifestyle modifications. Family medicine advocates treating the patient and not just his disease. It always places the patient at the center of the spectrum.
For these reasons, it is considered sacred, among other branches of medicine. Besides, family physicians can provide primary treatment for more than 80% of illnesses in a community.
Let us explore the basic aspects of family medicine in India. And also discuss why it has always been the most sought-after medical specialty in India.
What Is the Difference Between Family Physicians and General Practitioners?
Often, we hear people use the following terms interchangeably:
- family physician,
- primary care practitioner,
- doctor of internal medicine, and
- general practitioner.
However, they have subtle differences, particularly in the category of patients they treat, from where they practice, etc. Let us look at some of the differences between a family physician and a primary care physician.
|Difference Between Family Physicians and General Practitioners|
|General Physician||Family Physician|
|Treats adult patients.||Treats people of all ages in a family/extended family.|
|Works from hospitals.||Works from clinics and other outpatient facilities.|
|Includes diagnosis, tests, and minor procedures.||Provides patient-centric treatments and preventive medicine.|
|Treats more number of patients in a hospital environment, including complex cases.||Treat a limited number of patients in an office environment, often within his comfort or skill zone.|
|Must complete a rigorous, 3-year training mostly from a hospital.||Complete 1-year training, followed by 2-year in a specialization.|
|Has a deeper understanding of specific ailments of the human body.||Treats the patient from an overall perspective.|
|Visits multiple hospitals; hence, maintains a hectic schedule.||Dedicates himself to community values and connects to the patient on a personal level.|
Demand for Family Physicians in India
Family medicine has gained prominence in recent years in India. The first batch of students graduated in 2015. Sources from Wharton estimate the size of the primary healthcare in India at $39 billion.
As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there are around 560,000 MBBS graduates practicing family medicine in India. India needs thousands of more family physicians. Various steps have been taken to increase the number of family physicians in India.
Introspecting Some Reasons Behind Unpopularity of Family Medicine
Family medicine hardly makes an appearance in the list of PG courses after MBBS. Regulatory policies in medical education in India are other reasons.
The advent of start-ups in India is good news for medical practitioners who want to excel in family medicine. Corporate companies prefer to hire family physicians as their corporate doctors to take care of the well-being of their staff.
Factors That Are in Your Favor of Becoming a Family Physician
A family physician maintains a cordial relationship with the whole family. This acts as a great icebreaker in trivial times and helps in fast recovery of the patient.
Let us look at some of the advantages you could enjoy while being a family physician:
- Have a fulfilling career and strong community values
- Maintain work-life balance
- Create impacts on people’s lives directly and be there to witness it
- Serve the community and make a positive impact by improving people’s health and lifestyle
- Treat individuals from different age groups and connect with them socially
So, what is your reason to choose the noblest profession of all specializations in medicine?
Career Growth as a Family Physician: An Overview
After completing a specialization course or fellowship in family medicine, you can choose how and where you want to practice.
You can practice either privately or by owning a clinic individually or jointly, where you can work with other specialists. The latter arrangement encourages better communication among doctors. This promotes the best interest of the patient. It is also a wonderful opportunity for knowledge exchange and skill enhancement.
If you do not want to be burdened with administrative tasks, finding a job in reputed hospitals will do good. You can also practice part-time. With plenty of options to take up, family medicine is an immensely fulfilling career option in India.
Next, let us look at the earnings part of the family physicians.
Attractive Earnings on a Par with Other Specialists
The pay scale of family physicians in India follows a pattern based on experience, qualification, location, etc.
According to PayScale, a family doctor in India, with less than 1 year of experience, can earn around 60k/month. Isn’t it a very attractive salary for a beginner? Further, it is a universal truth that with more experience comes better remuneration. Take a look at the below graph to understand this more clearly:
It is worth mentioning here that Bangalore, also known as the Silicon Valley of India, offers family physicians 33% more pay than the national average.
How to Become a Family Physician in India
In a worldwide scenario, family medicine is a separate discipline in medicine like any other. In countries like the USA, the UK, and Australia, it is offered as a specialty in vocational training programs. However, the scene is a little different in India, owing to the recent developments in family medicine as a complete course.
Doctor of medicine in family medicine is a prominent PG course after MBBS in India. This specialization can be availed in almost all medical colleges in India. It is a university-based learning program. Here, students learn different aspects of family medicine alongside hands-on experience.
Whereas, fellowship in family medicine program is another option for medical aspirants to have a demanding career in this specialization.
It is not until recently that family medicine overcame the challenges that existed in the medical education system in India. It is now receiving tremendous acceptance among those who are looking for PG courses after MBBS. There is no doubt that this will bring a noticeable impact on primary healthcare in India, especially in rural areas.
Like any other specialty, MBBS graduates should complete a specialization degree in family medicine to practice as a family physician. If you do not wish to spend three years and excessive fees in a PG medical course, you can opt for a fellowship in family medicine.
Fellowship in Family Medicine
Having an MBBS degree is not enough to excel in this fast-pacing medical profession. Being a doctor, you have to upgrade yourself with the required skills and knowledge and a specialization degree. There are so many PG medical courses to be considered after MBBS.
That is indeed an expansive list, and if you are feeling a bit boggled after reading this, don’t be. Besides these PG courses after MBBS, there are a few fellowship programs that are available in India.
Currently, in India, fellowship in family medicine is gaining more popularity and wide acceptance among professionals. This is due to the flexibility allowed in the learning and competencies gained in the course. Instead of long-term, PG courses after MBBS, a fellowship in family medicine can be considered for its shorter duration and lower fee. It also offers much more.
Texila American University and Its Fellowship (MMSc)
Texila American University, in collaboration with UCN, a fellowship program (MMSc), where family medicine is one of the specializations. Besides, we offer around 13 specializations that include:
- Critical Care
- Family Medicine
- Global Health, HIV Medicine, and Infectious disease
- Preventive Cardiology
- Nuclear Medicine
- Reproductive Health
This fellowship (MMSc) in family medicine is a two-year program open for MBBS graduates. The specialty of this fellowship program is its convenience. You can pursue this even if you work full-time or own a clinic.