What is a General Practitioner?

General PractitionerA general practitioner is a non-specialist doctor who diagnoses diseases and prescribes medication for the general populace. Many medical students today can have trouble choosing between specialty and general practice. Though both career paths take seemingly forever to complete, a recent trend, as reported by New York Times, reveals a growth of interest in the latter. Although the General Practitioner job market may have suffered a bit due to recent technological advances, the job still has high demand and richly rewards those who are innately curious and willing to help others. General Practitioners will have little free time for themselves, but immerse in a people-intensive experience in return.


These physicians are very important to society, because they are among the first people patients will meet for treatment of illnesses or injuries. Not only do the General Practitioners assess the problems of their patients, but they also try to establish good and personal relationships with them. The longer the time of relationship, the better acquainted a practitioner can be to his patient’s medical history. This allows for better sickness prevention. Furthermore, since General Practitioners are non-specialists, they have the breadth of knowledge necessary to refer the patient to a specialist doctor.


The job title does not easily speak for itself, as the position holds various tasks at various priority levels. One of the key roles is to liaise with different hospitals, so that the patient can find the right professional for a particular health issue. The GP must study regularly to stay up-to-date of the latest medical advances. While he studies about complex features of the human anatomy, the GP also teaches and assesses current med students, as well as encouraging health education along with other medical professionals. Typically, the general practitioner serves as a family doctor, providing guidance on maintaining a healthy life. He also implements child immunization and other medical programs mandated by the federal government.

Necessary Skills And Education

Aspiring General Practitioners require strong interpersonal skills and a knack for the sciences. Most of their work involves meeting with families or single patients in-person. They will also need to overcome the discomfort of disclosing a worst case scenario diagnosis. Finally, they must be able to work well under pressure and make swift decisions in crucial situations.

As one of the most educationally demanding jobs on the market, the General Practitioner must have had a long track record in academia. After four years of undergraduate education in any major, the student requires four more years at medical school. The most selective medical schools require students to score at least 30 out of 45 on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The first two years of medical school involve analyzing the human anatomy; the next two years involve real world experience at a hospital. Then, he or she must enroll in a residency program to earn the proper license. That makes about eleven years of higher education before the job officially begins.

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In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the mean annual salary of a General Practitioner is $183,940. But salary is only part of the story. As provider of medical access to nearly every citizen, the General Practitioner is expected to do more than just save lives.