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General Practitioner vs. Medical Doctor

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General practitioners and medical doctors perform similar duties, but there are also a few differences between them. General practitioners treat minor illnesses, while medical doctors tend to be more specialized in their practices.

General Practitioners

General practitioners are primary family doctors who perform checkups with adults and children. They also offer generic advice to patients and sometimes refer them to specialized doctors should a serious illness occur.

Medical Doctors

Medical doctors usually specialize in a specific discipline to offer patients more detailed assistance than a general practitioner. For example, an oncologist works primarily with cancer patients, while a gynecologist deals primarily with women's health.

Pros and Cons of General Practitioners

General practitioners often have a thorough medical history of the family and can accurately assess the correct illnesses based on this knowledge. They also provide the stability of having a primary doctor to visit when emergencies arise. A disadvantage is that they may not offer specialized care to patients.

Pros and Cons of Medical Doctors

For patients whose specific illnesses cannot always be treated by general practitioners, they can visit a medical doctor. A disadvantage is that medical doctors may not have the patients' medical histories readily available.


Patients can benefit from both types of doctors because they're both knowledgeable of illnesses and different medications in general. It's just that one focuses more on specific systems of the body.


Thea Theresa English is a freelance writer who lives in New Orleans. She has written articles on career development, maintaining healthy relationships, politics and cultural issues. She is currently a graduate student at Tulane University where she will receive her Master of Liberal Arts degree.

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