AIMING TO revive the concept of family physicians, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has approved a proposal to set up a department of family medicine and start a doctor of medicine (DM) programme in family medicine at the institute.
PGI doctors say the institute is apparently the first to start a family medicine course in the northern region.
Traditionally, a family doctor is one to whom families visit regularly, irrespective of the disease and age. A family physician provides primary treatment for all the diseases and refers patients to the specialist only if there is a need for it.
A senior official told Chandigarh Newsline on Monday said that the proposal had been cleared by the institute’s staff council which met last week. “This course was among several proposals which were cleared by the institute’s staff council. The council cleared a few new study programmes as well,” said the official, adding that the institute would offer a DM programme in family medicine and there would be six seats each year.
The concept of family physician for the past so many years has taken a hit, as the patients mostly prefer to visit the specialist and super specialist for treatment. Doctors say after qualifying, the candidate should be able to function as a family medicine specialist at a community healthcare setting. “The physician should be specialised even to provide healthcare from birth till old age,” said a doctor.
Dr Madhu Gupta, Additional Professor of Community Medicine at School of Public Health, PGI, maintains the concept of family physician is very important. “This [family physician] is actually a single point of contact for a patient. There is no need for the patient to visit doctors of different specialties. Seventy per cent of the patients with minor illnesses can be treated by these family physicians. It will also reduce the load at secondary and tertiary care level. In the course of a family medicine, a doctor is taught about various specialties, including ENT, paediatrics, ophthalmology and gynaecology,” she says.
In this region, none of the institutes is offering a course in the family medicine currently, says Dr Madhu.