Minnesota Rural Health School
Professional Disciplines of Minnesota Rural Health School    

 

  PhysicianDomain/Scope of Practice

The practice of medicine involves the evaluation of patients through patient histories, physical examinations, laboratory and diagnostic testing resulting in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Treatment may involve pharmacologic or surgical interventions. Counseling and other therapies may also be provided. Classically the medical focus is on the individual, but family medicine and other specialties now also focus on families and communities. Physicians practice following the medical care model.

The scope of medical practice is as varied as the physicians who have come to it. Some medical specialties, such as Pathology, have little or no patient contact. Other physicians enter into purely academic, or research-oriented careers. Most physicians, however, find some kind of balance between the intellectual grasp of a health problem, effective people skills, and the manual skills and hand-eye coordination needed to diagnose or treat a particular problem. Rural Family Practice is unique in that the doctor must be quite skilled in a great number of areas. He or she must have a talent for effective listening and understanding of complex situations; and must be prepared to lead interventions should a life-threatening emergency or complex situation arise. He or she must be able to work well with all members of an interdisciplinary health care team. A family physician has to know how to delegate responsibility and make appropriate referrals and obtain consultation when needed. He or she must know how to deliver babies, set bones, repair lacerations, interpret labs and X-rays, develop working diagnoses for various symptoms and findings, and be able to stabilize critical or complex patients before transfer to a larger institution. This sets the stage for a demanding, yet extremely rewarding career.

 

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2001 University of Minnesota Duluth School of Medicine

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