News Release

Differences between self-identified general practitioners and board-certified family doctors

General practitioners in US medical practice compared with family physicians

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Academy of Family Physicians

Physicians who identify as "general practitioners" are a group distinct from board-certified "family physicians," according to a new study that was supported, in part, by the American Board of Family Medicine Foundation. Family medicine researchers from the University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, University of Kentucky and the American Board of Family Medicine analyzed national data on physicians in direct patient care, linking records from the American Medical Association to American Board of Family Medicine board certification status, as well as to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and US Department of Health and Human Services data. In their analysis of all 102,604 MD and DO physicians in the United States, the authors of this study describe the personal, professional and practice characteristics of self-identified general practitioners as compared with American Board of Family Medicine certified family physicians.

GPs are more likely to be older (average age 64.6 years for GPs compared with 49.4 for FPs), male (77% of GPs vs. 58% of FPs), DOs (28% vs. 10%), and graduates of non-US medical schools (41% vs. 23%). Few GPs have family medicine residency training (9%); less than half have any residency training directly relevant to primary care (48%). GPs and board-certified FPs practice in similar geographic locations, but GPs are less likely to participate in Medicare (53% vs. 76%) or work in hospitals (13% vs. 22%). GPs are slightly more likely to provide nursing home services (13% vs. 11%) and to make home visits (3% vs. 1%). The authors recommend that GPs and FPs be considered separate groups for research, workforce and policy purposes.


The American Board of Family Medicine is among the Annals of Family Medicine's seven sponsoring organizations.

General Practitioners in US Medical Practice Compared With Family Physicians
William R. Phillips, MD, MPH, et al
University of Washington, Department of Family Medicine, Seattle, Washington

Post-embargo published article link (link is active on March 9, 2020, 5pm Eastern)

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