Overview of a General Physician
- General Physician is a doctor who does not specialize in a specific branch of medicine and deals with all types of non-surgical illnesses and treats them.
- Most of the illnesses are treated by a General Physician only without the aid of a specialist like Cardiologist or Neurologist.
- A doctor is different from a General Practitioner as a General Practitioner is just a medical graduate without any specialization degree in any branch of medicine.
- A doctor is a medical practitioner who can be differentiated from other specialist doctors on the basis of the type of illnesses they treat, type of patients they see, where they treat the patients and whether they treat surgically or non-surgically, conservatively or extensively.
- Usually, a General Physician treats all kinds of patients ranging from acutely ill like that of typical Emergency Room scenario to chronically ill patients till these patients are stabilized or they are completely treated.
Role and Function of a General Physician
- General Physicians or General doctors see those patients which are referred to them by family doctors, only after they are diagnosed with some illness which pertains to a particular organ or system of the body.
- After the initial diagnosis by a family doctor, also known as General Practitioner, role of a doctor comes into play. Now, this doctor will try to diagnose accurately the patient referred to him by conducting initial tests first, followed by some expensive or confirmatory tests.
- Since, a doctor knows about all the illnesses of the body, he will eventually come to a diagnosis and start treating the patient.
- Now, the treatment might be short term or long term or life long depending upon the kind of illness or disease.
- The patient can be treated in the consultation rooms, general wards, emergency room or ICUs depending upon the condition of the patient.
- For a General Physician, diagnosis is the key. Entire training of a doctor revolves around diagnosis of common, less common, simple as well as complex diseases which may be present alone or in combination with other diseases or syndromes.
- Though, complex and difficult procedures are usually done by Superspecialists like Cardiologists, Neurologists and Nephrologists, some procedures are carried out by General Physicians also like draining a pus, draining CSF for diagnosis and treatment, pleural tap for diagnosis and treatment, ascitic tap for diagnosis and treatment and many other procedures. So, General doctor carry out a lot of procedures also.
Disease conditions treated by General Physicians
GPs treat all medical conditions, like conditions that affect the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, haematological or endocrine systems. Examples of conditions treated by this class of doctors is:-
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Ischaemic heart disease (angina, heart attack)
- Emphysema and COPD
- Liver diseases
- Epilepsy (seizures)
- Endocrine diseases
- Thyroid disease
- Pituitary disease
Can General Physicians give treatment to the patients?
- We might think that General doctor only diagnose complex medical illnesses and write us the diagnosis in our file but that is usually not the scenario especially if we consider the Indian setting because here in this country, both diagnosis as well as treatment is given by the doctor for many medical illnesses.
- The doctor prescribes a certain number of medications to be taken at certain periods of time for a certain number of days in the prescription slip of the patient.
- “This prescription slip is a legal document which can be brought in the court of law if demanded to do so by the justice”.
- General doctor prescribe treatments and see the progress of the patient’s recover also by interacting with the patient and enquiring about the problem as well as he/she also look at the reports for any changes.
Can General physicians treat surgical patients?
- A General Physician is a MBBS graduate, which means he/she can treat the surgical patients also which fall within his/her limits. But as far as surgical patients are admitted within the custody of a surgeon, a doctor only functions as a visiting physician before the surgery and after the surgery.
- Before surgery, a General doctor treats the patients and tries to make the patient fit for the surgery. The common targets are to bring the blood sugar and blood pressure within the normal limits.
- After surgery, a General doctor is required to monitor the vitals of the patient, prevent the patient from loosing haemodynamic imbalance, internal bleeding, septicemia and cardiac well being.
- So, a General doctor has many diverse roles in many diverse settings and diseases.
What differentiates a General physician from other doctors?
- Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine states that No greater opportunity, responsibility or obligation can fall to the lot of a human being than to become a physician.
- Being a physician requires practical knowledge, tact and human sympathy to treat the suffering.
- A General doctor has very diverse knowledge, very unique training and a very outstanding set of skills which not only includes the knowledge and practice but also many soft skills, communication skills and the eye of a detective who can see a million things in one sight put at the patient.
- A physician is really a unique human who is a living God on earth, and I am not exaggerating.
Qualifications of a General Physician?
A Physician has following qualifications:-
- Passed Senior Secondary School.
- Passed NEET or any other equivalent entrance examination for admission to Medical College.
- Four and a Half year of studies with examinations and practical training of MBBS plus One year of compulsory Internship totalling 5 and a half years of MBBS.
- Another entrance examination i.e, NEET PG for admission into MD Medicine.
- Three years of MD Medicine.
Are General Physicians specialists?
- Yes, they are specialists as they have pursued MD Medicine, a post graduate course of 3 years but they are looked upon as General Doctors or General Practitioners because they deal with wide variety of diseases and people often see them for all kinds of common illnesses that are prevalent in day to day scenario.
- However, with time these doctors tend to gain more expertise in a certain field of medicine, but at the same time they maintain the overall knowledge and expertise in medicine in broader category of all non-surgical illnesses.
What happens during an appointment with a General Physician?
- During appointment with a doctor, the patient is interviewed by the doctor and asked for history regarding the symptoms, signs as well as family history and personal history. This is a short interview being conducted by the doctor for peeping into the medical condition so that he/she may come to a probable diagnosis and can order some tests if necessary.
- The Ultimate diagnosis of complex and uncommon conditions is possible to be drawn only if we conduct proper tests while the common conditions can be diagnosed only on the basis of history and examination of the patient.
- Next step after history taking by the doctor, a patient will be examined by the doctor systematically and the doctor might find some clues to the diagnosis in the process.
- After that the patient might will have to wait for the sample of blood to be withdrawn and sent for reports, the result of investigations may take some time.
- Once the reports come, the doctor will analyse the figures and will arrive at a definite diagnosis. At this point 90% of the work is done. The difficult part is over i.e, Diagnosis.
- Now, the doctor will write a prescription of the medications.
- Now, the patient has to comply with the doctor for best results, early relief and complete cure. Unfortunately, many patients are non-compliant which make the treatment even more difficult and in this way they are responsible for drug resistance in many infections.
Fee of a General Physician?
- India is a country of cheap service and therefore, Fees of doctors when compared to doctors of other countries is very less.
- On an average, Fee of a General doctor varies from Rs.100 to Rs.300 in small towns and moderate cities like Ferozepur and Amritsar.
- Fee may be slightly more in Metropolitan cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai etc.
- The service given by a doctor should not be compared with the fee of the doctor because a doctor’s service is indispensable in terms of money and comparison therefore, is a futile exercise.