The role of the family doctor in Malta – Ramona Portelli Blog

The role of the family doctor in Malta

As you were growing up, you’d probably remember a visit or two, to your family doctor. 

As soon as one hears the term “family doctor,” one may think of a diligent person with a black medical bag and a stethoscope, making house calls to treat the sick. Personally, I was always fascinated in their work…so much, that I eventually became a doctor, and now I am about to specialize in Family Medicine. 

I remember most of my family doctors along the years as being trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, brave, and reverent. Our family doctor would have been the first point of contact for any medical doubts and issues. But really, and truly, one would ask – what is it exactly that a family doctor does?

A family doctor offers comprehensive medical care to persons of all ages and genders at every stage of life…so much as from the cradle to the grave. Family doctors are trained to deal with a vast range of medical, surgical, paediatric, gynaecological, palliative, emergency and mental health conditions. 

The role of a family doctor has evolved into a specialized physician, usually operating from private clinics, health centres, community and hospital-based specialized clinics, schools, as well as Telemedicine hubs. 

Family doctors are an invaluable part of the health care chain. They can be found educating the general public on preventive medicine, taking histories and physicals, ordering and interpreting test results, diagnosing acute injuries and chronic conditions, prescribing treatments and creating holistic management plans. Family doctors also help patients easily navigate through the healthcare system, coordinate with insurance companies, and refer them to other specialists when necessary.

Good communication skills are essential in this field. It is well known of family doctors to build strong connections with both patients and their families. 

In Malta, in order to become a specialist in Family Medicine, one must first complete a 5 year medical degree course, then a 2 year Foundation programme, followed by a 3 year GP training programme.

by Dr. Georgiana Farrugia Bonnici

MD, MSc Family Medicine, BSc (Hons). Radiography

Diplomas in Mindful Mental Health, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Nutrition & Dietetics, Homeopathy & Reflexology, Creative Writing

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