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Family medicine

Family physicians are experts in the primary health care of individuals in the context of families and communities. Their practice is not limited by age, gender, organ system or disease entity; and the specialty integrates biological, clinical, and behavioral medicine. Family medicine emphasizes care in an out-patient setting that is person-focused and follows people over their whole lifespan.  Family doctors practice in every community in the United States, and are often the only physicians in underserved and rural communities. Family medicine also is an excellent training for international medicine and global health. Opportunities to practice exist in urban communities, suburbia, multi-specialty group practices, and academic medical centers. Most family medicine doctors have busy out-patient practices either as solo physicians or in groups.

Additionally, some may perform surgery, care for hospitalized patients, deliver babies (including via C-section), teach students or residents, or staff the emergency room. Some family physicians develop areas of further expertise, often through fellowship training such as sports medicine, geriatrics, women's health, HIV medicine, preventive medicine, palliative medicine, integrative medicine, or research. Family medicine also provides extensive training in outpatient procedures which range from those in gynecology (i.e. intrauterine and implantable contraception, evaluation and treatment of cervical dysplasia, abortion care), to dermatology, as well as vasectomy and ultrasonography. Family physicians also carry out research in a range of topics that is as diverse as their clinical work though research in family medicine often looks at health care systems and delivery, issues of public health and health care policy. To train physicians for such a diverse career, family doctors complete a broad-based three-year residency with extensive outpatient, inpatient, and obstetric experiences.

School Required Sub-I:

Family Medicine or Medicine

Highly recommended:

An upper level Family Medicine elective – can be done outside of Penn

A collection of electives that will prepare you to take care of patients across the scope of family medicine practice (see recommendations below).


Ambulatory Pediatrics of any kind
Emergency Medicine adult or child
Infectious Disease
Neurology Ob/Gyn electives
Sports Medicine Radiology

To learn more about Penn's Department of Family Medicine visit their website at:

To learn more about the field of family medicine visit this website:

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