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GP vs. Physician: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 9, 2024
A GP, or General Practitioner, is a doctor who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education, while a physician is any medical doctor.

Key Differences

A GP, short for General Practitioner, is a primary care doctor who treats a wide range of medical conditions across all ages, genders, and parts of the body. A physician is a broader term that includes any medical doctor, whether they are specialists or generalists.
GPs often serve as the first point of contact in the healthcare system, providing continuous and comprehensive care. Physicians can be either general practitioners or specialists in specific areas of medicine.
General Practitioners focus on the overall health of the patient, managing both acute and chronic conditions. Physicians, depending on their specialization, may focus on specific medical fields or patient populations.
GPs play a key role in preventive health, health education, and guiding patients through the healthcare system. Physicians, in general, include those who may engage in highly specialized medical work, research, or surgical procedures.

Comparison Chart

Scope of Practice

Broad, covering all areas of general medicine
Can be general or specialized

Role in Healthcare

Often first point of contact, ongoing care
Includes both primary and specialized care

Patient Population

All ages, genders, and health conditions
Depending on specialization


Holistic patient care, preventive medicine
Can range from general care to specific medical fields


Specialized in general medicine
Broad, includes all medical doctors

GP and Physician Definitions


A doctor providing primary and continuing care.
My GP knows my entire medical history.


Engages in the practice of medicine.
The physician prescribed the necessary medication.


Offers preventive healthcare advice.
My GP advised me on diet and exercise.


Provides healthcare treatment and advice.
The physician performed a thorough examination.


Manages both acute and chronic illnesses.
The GP is managing my diabetes treatment.


A medical doctor, either a GP or a specialist.
The physician diagnosed her condition accurately.


Treats a wide range of conditions.
The GP treated my flu symptoms.


May focus on a specific medical field.
The physician specializes in cardiology.


Coordinates patient care within the healthcare system.
My GP referred me to a specialist.


Can conduct medical research or surgery.
The physician published a paper on his findings.


A physician who is not a specialist but treats all illnesses


A person trained and licensed to practice medicine; one who has a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.


(Archaic) A person who practices general medicine as distinct from surgery.


A person who heals or exerts a healing influence.


A practitioner of physic, i.e. a specialist in internal medicine, especially as opposed to a surgeon; a practitioner who treats with medication rather than with surgery.


A medical doctor trained in human medicine.


A person skilled in physic, or the art of healing; one duty authorized to prescribe remedies for, and treat, diseases; a doctor of medicine.


Hence, figuratively, one who ministers to moral diseases; as, a physician of the soul.


A licensed medical practitioner;
I felt so bad I went to see my doctor


What does GP stand for?

GP stands for General Practitioner.

Can a GP perform surgery?

Generally, GPs do not perform complex surgeries.

Is every physician a GP?

No, not all physicians are GPs; some are specialists.

Are all GPs physicians?

Yes, all GPs are a type of physician.

What conditions does a GP treat?

A GP treats a wide range of general health conditions.

How often should I visit my GP?

It depends on your health needs; annually for a check-up is common.

Can physicians conduct research?

Yes, many physicians engage in medical research.

Can a GP refer to specialists?

Yes, GPs can refer patients to medical specialists.

Do GPs provide preventive care?

Yes, GPs provide preventive care and health education.

Are physicians always specialists?

No, physicians can be either generalists (GPs) or specialists.

Do GPs perform laboratory tests?

GPs can order and interpret various laboratory tests.

Can a physician be a pediatrician?

Yes, a pediatrician is a type of physician specializing in children's health.

Are surgeons considered physicians?

Yes, surgeons are specialized physicians.

What's the role of a GP in chronic illness?

GPs manage and coordinate treatment for chronic illnesses.

Are physicians involved in public health?

Yes, some physicians work in public health sectors.

Is a GP the same as a family doctor?

Yes, GP and family doctor are often used interchangeably.

Can GPs provide mental health support?

Yes, GPs can provide initial mental health support and referrals.

Can a physician have a subspecialty?

Yes, many physicians have subspecialties within their field.

Do physicians specialize in mental health?

Yes, psychiatrists are physicians specializing in mental health.

Do all physicians have medical degrees?

Yes, all physicians hold medical degrees.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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