Physicians are on the front lines of the health battle, trying to keep America healthy, but the number of general practice (GP) physicians is on the decline. There is a critical need in the U.S. for GPs, and convincing more medical students to go into family practice will be a vital part of healthcare reform efforts.
Working as a general practice physician has been named one of the best jobs in America by Money Magazine. A GP is paid well and is able to develop a life-long relationship with his or her patients. They typically treat an entire family and are trained to handle a wide variety of ailments and diseases. It is often mentioned as one of the most satisfying of all physician careers.
To qualify to become a general practice physician, you must:
- complete a four-year pre-med college program
- attend a four-year medical school
- complete a 3-4 year medical residency program
- pass the medical boards for certification
- attend continuing education classes throughout your career
Anyone entering the field should understand that becoming a general practice physician can be a very challenging process. The course work can be extremely difficult, and the residency period is often long and grueling. Expect to be on call at all hours of the day and night.
The role of the general practitioner is more important now than ever. Under healthcare reform, the GP is given the duty of coordinating preventive care. Everything from checking cholesterol levels to screening for colon cancer falls on the shoulders of the general practice physician. It is then up to the GP to go over the results with the patient and come up with a plan of action.