The ability to establish and maintain a good relationship with patients is essential in family practice. This relationship is important for our own effectiveness and satisfaction, and for the patient’s health. Our specialty of family practice is one of processes based upon interactions with individuals, families, and communities. McWhinney describes our discipline as unique, pointing out that family physicians are predominantly committed to persons rather than to a body of knowledge (5). The family practice relationship considers the whole person and the family as the “total patient.” These relationships must be fulfilling to both the physician and the patient.
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