General Practitioners

Last updated December 31, 2014

Have you ever wondered how general practitioners (GPs) know so much? How they are able to recognize health problems as different as strep throat, pulled muscles, allergic reactions, ulcers, and asthma -- sometimes all before lunch?

GPs are trained to both see the big picture and zoom in on the problem’s cause. And if they can’t fix the problem, it’s their job to refer the patient to a specialist who can.

General practitioners, also known as family doctors, are often a patient's main doctor. They perform yearly checkups, treat a variety of conditions, and refer patients to specialists.

Did You Know?

HMOs (health maintenance organizations) often require members to see a GP or internist before seeing other types of doctors.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Spot and treat a wide range of health problems
  • Spend years studying and training, and a lifetime keeping up with advances in medicine
  • Help patients maintain their health and prevent illness
  • Give some patients bad news
  • Balance heavy workloads with your personal life

It Helps To Be...

A self-motivated, compassionate decision maker and a crack investigator. Curiosity and conviction are often what keep GPs going -- that and the constant process of learning from and helping their patients.

Make High School Count

  • Take plenty of challenging math and science classes, including AP® courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus.
  • Enhance your communication skills through English composition, speech, and drama classes.
  • Sign up for psychology to learn about human nature and explore the mind-body connection.
  • Volunteer at a health clinic, a hospital, a women’s clinic, or an eldercare facility.
  • Explore summer study programs like the University of Massachusetts High School Health Careers Program

Did You Know?

In 2008, 43 percent of doctors worked fifty or more hours a week.