Primary care medicine has many flavors. An internist may, for example, serve as a primary care doctor. However, the specialties of internal medicine often point to adult patients. Doctors of family medicine, such as Dr. Mirela Mircea and Dr. Vivian Lugo-Eschenwald of Family Medicine Associates of Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia train specifically to treat patients at all stages of their lives.
Comparing a family practice physician to a general practitioner, for instance, reveals many similarities, particularly in education and residency requirements. Each doctor completes a bachelor’s degree emphasizing biology, chemistry, and physics, followed by 4 more years of medical school. After graduation, training continues with a 3-year residency under the guidance of a senior doctor. There’s much overlap in practice, too.
The differences come when we look at practice philosophies. A family practice doctor focuses on the needs of the entire family, from birth to the senior years. Besides general medicine, a family doctor may study specialties such as obstetrics, pediatrics, gynecology, or geriatrics. The general practitioner may not have any of these specialties, and therefore may refer patients to specialists. Family care physicians typically treat patients needing their specialties in-house.
Yes. The ideal family practice relationship, from a patient’s birth into adulthood and beyond provides for continuity of care. This, in turn, encourages a greater emphasis on preventive care – stopping disorders before they start. Other doctors may have a more reactive role, treating patients only after an illness starts. Dr. Mircea and Dr. Lugo emphasize prevention through education, an opportunity that doctors without long-term access to patients may not have.
Yes. Family medicine is recognized as a practice specialty. The American Board of Family Medicine certifies doctors as qualified to act as family practitioners. Doctors must re-certify every 6 years and a minimum of 150 hours of continuing education must be completed every 3 years. The ABFM continually updates its conditions and guidelines, assuring that family practitioners have the education and experience necessary to provide required standards of care. Both Dr. Lugo and Dr. Mircea have certification through the ABFM.
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"Fantastic doctors & staff; they take the time to truly understand patients and put them at ease. The doctors do a great job giving you their rationale..."
"She has a phenomenal, empathetic bedside manner; I never feel rushed, she asks lots of questions, and makes me an active participant in decisions about my care."
"Had my first visit there a month or so ago. It went exactly as I wanted. I waited only a few minutes, the staff was professional. They answered all of my questions."
"...FMAA has been a loyal and consistent part of my family staying healthy while overcoming a myriad of different issues."
"I'm usually really uncomfortable with doctors offices, but the staff here is all very friendly...Billing was really easy- they have online payment..."
"I have been trying to find a good doctor for many years. My first visit here was excellent. Professional and courteous..."
"Dr. Vivian Lugo is a very professional - ethics, knowledge and experience. She has been my primary physician for 11 years...She is the best!"
"Dr. Vivian Lugo is a very caring and professional MD. The feeling of being listened to and care for is achieved when seeing Dr Lugo. She is thorough and clear..."
"I've been going to Family Medicine for three years. Usually can get an appointment with Dr. Mircea within a week..."