Role of Family Medicine Specialists

By Dr Iskandar Firzada Osman




Is there a difference between Medical Officers/GPs and a Family Medicine Specialist? If yes, what can a Family Medicine Specialist do that normal MOs or GPs can’t?


Laws of Malaysia; Medical Act 1971 require ALL doctors, including MOs, GPs, Specialists and/or Consultants to be registered with the MMC before they are allowed to practice in Malaysia. MMC will look at the basic medical degree to determine whether the doctors are eligible or not for registration. The doctors can claim that he/she is a specialist and he/she can practice as a specialist but no authority in Malaysia can dispute his/her claim. Medical (Amendment) Bill 2012 requires ALL medical specialists who claim that he/she is a specialist and would like to practice in that particular specialty to be authenticated, credentialed and privileged and be registered with the MMC by the National Specialist Register (NSR). Family Medicine specialty is one of the medical specialties listed under the NSR. Thus, please ensure the Family Medicine Specialist (FMS) that your hospital plan to employ is registered with the NSR. Otherwise, he/she can only practice as a MO/GP. You can check his/her name in the NSR’s website:
Nothing a FMS does that the normal MOs or GPs can’t do, vice versa. However a FMS has been trained to sieve through first contact, early presentation, undifferentiated and sometimes with multiple and multitude clinical presentations to come about with a decent problem list taking into consideration not only the biological/physical aspects but the psychosocial domain as well. In order to keep up with the ever changing and dynamism of medicine and diseases, FMS need to constantly update and upgrade their knowledge and skills through continuous professional development which has been second nature to a FMS. It’s also a requirement to renew the specialty register in the NSR. Whereas most MOs and GPs rely on their experience and seldom update and upgrade their knowledge and skills. FMS is skilful in managing more complex and complicated medical and psychosocial illnesses, both acute and chronic, across all age group and systems, collaborating and becoming patient’s advocate if the patients need referral to hospital-based specialists or to secondary care. At the same time, FMS has been ingrained with knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive care; from wellness promotion, disease prevention, early detection, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. These are applicable across different age groups, gender, organ systems and healthcare settings.