What does general physician mean?
A general physician (GP) or general practitioner is a doctor who is expert in the treatment of chronic and acute illness. A general physician provides health education and suggests preventive steps to tackle them. A GP doctor also takes into account the emotional, physical and social factors while diagnosing illness and recommending treatment.
GP doctors may also refer to patients to hospital clinics for further treatment if they feel so. It is interesting to note that the duties of a general medical doctor are not only confined to the treatment of particular organs of the body but treating multiple health issues.
The GP takes a holistic view of his patient and is usually the first point of contact for the patient whenever there is any illness or concerns. GPs treat a whole range of conditions from head to toe, and manage many ailments. When they think there is need for more specialist intervention or investigation, they will refer a patient to secondary care (hospital). They can also arrange for other services such as physiotherapy, counselling, podiatry and other allied professional services.
General Physician Education in the UK?
General physicians are common in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland. Until 2005, a candidate aspiring to become a GP had to do a minimum of the following:
- A year as a PRHO (Pre-registration house officer)
- Two years as a SHO (Senior house officer)
- A year as a general practice registrar
However, the process has changed under Modersining Medical Careers programme where candidates graduating from 2005 had to do a minimum of 5 years postgraduate training where:
- There is a couple of years of Foundation Training
- A three-year GPSTP (GP Speciality Training Program)
In order to qualify and become a certified GP or primary care physician in the UK, one has to complete a medicine degree approved by the General Medical Council (GMC).
One needs good grades in A-level biology, chemistry and in any other science subject (mathematics or physics). Graduate programmes are generally of four years. There are medical schools that offer shorter graduate programmes. Entry is very competitive and in some medical schools, candidates need to sit for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT).
Responsibilities of a General Practitioner
The responsibilities of a general physician are:
- Conducting regular check-ups of patients
- Prescribing medication
- Diagnosing ailments
- Referring patients to other specialists
- Promote health education
- Discuss about new pharmaceutical products
- Organising medical programmes for patients
Some physicians also specialize in areas such as orthopaedics, psychiatry, human resource management, IT or gynaecology.
Medical Conditions Involving a GP
Given below are some of the conditions where a general physician may be involved:
- Common illness
- Common cold and cough
- Chronic bronchitis and obstructive lung disease
- High Blood pressure
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Medical Tests Analyzed by a GP
Some of the medical tests analyzed by a GP are as follows:
- Glucose levels in blood
- Drug Urinalysis
- Allergy testing
- CT scans
- Paternal testing
- X-ray reports
- Laboratory tests