5 Differences Between Internal Medicine & Family Medicine

Wondering what the difference is between a family doctor and also an inner medicine medical professional? You’re in good business. Lots of individuals are puzzled by the two terms– or even more accurately, by the distinctions between both specialties. While there is some overlap between internal medicine and family medicine, there are numerous essential distinctions between both.

Family Medicine

Physicians that concentrate on family medicine usually adhere to a three-year family medicine residency once they have finished their general residency. Throughout this time, they continue to work with clients of every age. Unlike experts such as dermatologists, who treat conditions of the skin, or pulmonologists, who take care of your lungs, family doctors look at your entire body’s systems.

Internal Medicine

Physicians who practice internal medicine are called internists. They’re trained to care for patients with both chronic and acute illnesses. Like family doctors, internists are equipped to diagnose and treat their patients for various conditions, and they also act as a coordinator should a patient require a specialist. Unlike family doctors, internists treat only adults, and they can set up practice when they complete their initial residency, although many choose to continue to learn as much as they can about the human body.

Here are the top five:

  1. Family medicine focuses on treating patients of all ages– both kids and adults. That means when you schedule an appointment with a family physician, your doctor will have a broad base of training in conditions and issues that affect patients of all ages, from infants to seniors.
  2. Internal medicine is focused on the unique needs of adult patients
    Do you know how a pediatrician treats only kids? Well, an internal medicine doctor (or internist) treats only adults. And that means they’ve focused specifically on the very unique needs and health risks adult patients face at every stage of their adult years.
  3. Family medicine doctors receive broad-based training in health and medical issues affecting patients of all ages
  4. While a few many have additional training in subspecialty areas, most family doctors have training that focuses on general outpatient care, including diagnosis and management of acute illnesses and chronic conditions, as well as preventive care.
    Internal medicine doctors are educated in general medical and health needs (including preventive care) as well, but as noted, that training is focused on adults. In addition to receiving training in general medical issues, internal medicine doctors also receive significant education and experience in specialty areas like psychiatry, dermatology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, palliative medicine, sleep medicine, infectious diseases and other subspecialties to ensure they can provide complete care for men and women at every stage of life.
  5. And finally, in addition to providing outpatient care at their practices, internists are more likely to provide hospital care as well. That doesn’t mean a family doctor can’t treat patients in an inpatient setting, but most of their training focuses on outpatient services, with inpatient needs referred to specialists. Internists have in-depth training and education in inpatient treatment as well as outpatient care.

One more important area of confusion to clear up: While they’re often referred to as internists, an internal medicine doctor is not the same as an intern, a term that refers to a medical student who’s still in training. While some interns may train to become internists, an internist– or internal medicine doctor– is a “full-fledged” doctor who’s completed all the training necessary to provide you with comprehensive care that’s focused on your unique needs.

As an adult, you can receive great care from both a family doctor and an internal medicine doctor. But because adulthood involves a lot of unique medical needs and health risks, many adult patients prefer the in-depth focus that only an internist can provide.

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