Table 7.

Key Characteristics of Family Medicine

A deep understanding of the dynamics of the whole personThis approach leads family physicians to consider all the influences on a person’s health. It helps to integrate rather than fragment care, involving people in the prevention of illness and the care of their problems, diseases, and injuries
A generative impact on patients’ livesThis terminology comes from Erik Erikson’s work on personality development. Family physicians participate in the birth, growth, and death of people and want to make a difference in the lives of their patients. While providing services that prevent or treat disease, family physicians foster personal growth in individuals and help with behavior change that may lead to better health and a greater sense of well-being
A talent for humanizing the health care experienceThe intimate relationships family physicians develop with many of their patients over time enables family physicians to connect with people. This ability to connect in a human way with people allows family physicians to explain complex medical issues in ways that people can understand. Family physicians take into account the culture and values of their patients, while helping them get the best care possible
A natural command of complexityFamily physicians are comfortable with uncertainty and complexity. They are trained to be inclusive, to consider all the factors that lead to health and well-being—not just pills and procedures
A commitment to multidimensional accessibilityThis means not only to be physically accessible to patients and their families and friends, but to maintain open, honest, and sharing communications with all involved with the care process