Family medicine and internal medicine: are they the same or different? One of the most confusing topics for both the doctors and the patients. Internal and family medicine doctors are primary care doctors and have training in several subspecialties; however, there are fundamental differences.
So, what are the differences between family medicine vs. internal medicine? Family medicine treats patients of all ages, where an internist or internal medicine doctor only treats adult patients. Based on their patients and area, their training is also different and their skill and duties.
What Is Internal Medicine Doctor?
Internal medicine doctors, aka internists, provide health care primarily to adults. They specialize in treating diseases that commonly affect adults; however, they also see children needing training for internal and pediatrics. Internal medicine doctors provide treatment, diagnosis, counsel, and prevention to adult patients’ wide variety of health issues to maintain their overall wellbeing.
An internist must complete a three-year residency to practice internal medicine. Some may take additional training on several subspecialties like endocrinology, oncology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, rheumatology, and geriatrics. Remember, an intern and an internist are not the same. An intern is a medical student, where an internist is a full-fletched doctor with all the degrees and training.
What Is Family Medicine Doctor?
Family medicine doctors treat patients of all ages- children, young, adult, and elderly. They tend to care for the same patients throughout their entire medical career. Often it can last for generations of family members.
Family medicine doctors usually provide care to four categories of medicines-
- adolescent physicians
- adult medicine
.A family doctor must complete a three-year residency program to practice family medicine, similar to an internist. However, as they treat various ages and conditions, their training includes a broad range of diagnosing and treatment. Thus the residency in family medicine encompasses training in pediatric medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry, radiology, ophthalmology, urology, and more.
What Are The Differences Between Family Medicine VS Internal Medicine
Internal medicine vs. family practice: it’s often confusing to determine who they are and their role is? One of the prominent reasons for such confusion is family doctors often see adult patients. It overlaps with the patients the internists see.
Another confusion-creating reason is that most family doctors do not cover obstetrics, neonatology, or several surgeries as part of their practice. It’s pretty similar to internists’ care and treatment. These reasons often make it difficult to differentiate between internal medicine and a family medicine doctor. However, there are notable dissimilarities between the two.
Different Group Of Patients
The primary difference between internal medicine and family medicine is their patient demographics.
Internal medicine aims the adult patients exclusively with their unique needs and medical conditions. Contrarily, family medicine doctors usually attend to all the family members despite their age – from children to the elderly.
In addition, many internal medicine doctors usually settle working in a hospital, whereas family doctors primarily work in outpatient ambiances.
Differences In Duties
Like patient demography, internal medicine and family medicine have different sets of duties. However, before looking at the differences of duties, let’s see the similar tasks both doctors perform.
- Managing minor chamber care- removing abscesses or alien bodies from your skin and eyes, fixing injuries and uncomplicated fractures
- Several diagnose – sigmoidoscopy, proctoscopy, and few gynecological tests.
- Handling nerve block and joint injection
Now, you may ask how their duties differ? Family doctors focus on preventive medicine in an outpatient setting, where internists focus more on inpatient, often in clinics.
Secondly, internal doctors usually treat and diagnose complex medical conditions both in offices or hospitals; however, family doctors treat patients in office settings. Seldom do they treat any hospitalized patients. However, note that an internal doctor can see a healthy patient. Contrarily, a family doctor can see patients with severe and complex medical conditions.
The significant difference between internal and family doctors is their training and clinical approach. Both internal medicine and family medicine, after completing their medical school, start their residency. However, their ‘residency’ differs in their clinical approach and setting.
During the three-year residency, internists take care of hospitalized patients. They also get their training in emergency medicine, critical care, and medical subspecialty care. Family doctors, on the other hand, receive the same inpatient training for one year. Then, their training splits the remaining two years among pediatrics, OB/GYN, and other outpatient medical sectors.
Most importantly, interns can extend their training into different specialties like psychiatry, dermatology, ophthalmology, office gynecology, otorhinolaryngology, non-operative orthopedics, palliative medicine, and geriatrics. But, for a family doctor, the extension of specialized training is limited.
The differences in training lead to the differences in skill and disciplines between internal medicine and family medicine.
Family doctors get the training to diagnose and treat medical issues of patients of all ages. However, internal doctors receive complete and extensive expertise in treating adult patients allowing them to handle various diseases, complicated cases, and multiple issues in a single patient.
In addition, their training enables internal doctors to interact with their internal medicine subspecialty colleagues in co-managing complex patients with cancer or autoimmune disease. So, the transition of a patient from an inpatient setting to hospitalization for further treatments becomes easy.
On the other hand, family medicine training provides a broader scope for a family doctor. Their training involves children’s care, OB/GYN, and several procedures that specialists serve. In addition, they are comfortable treating patients of all ages.
This skill set makes them valuable in places where specialists are unavailable, especially geographical areas or communities. A family physician does outpatient procedures like skin biopsies, IUD placement, joint injections, women’s health and pediatrics, and certain specialties, such as orthopedics. Internal medicine doctors treat severe diseases; therefore, working under pressure is essential for them. On the other hand, a healthy relational bond is a must for family medicine.
Contemplating Your Choices
What are the differences between family medicine vs. internal medicine? Family medicine vs. internal medicine: whom should you choose? Well, it depends on your preference and comfortability. As an adult, you will get excellent care from both internal medicine and a family doctor. However, as adulthood involves issues with complexities and risk, an internal doctor is more suitable to provide you with in-depth care.
At MyConciergeMD, Dr. Nazarian is a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine who has received numerous awards and recognition as a top doctor in his field. He is passionate about delivering the highest level of care to his patients and highly values the trust of his patients and their families. Therefore, without delay, call My Concierge MD to schedule a day with the expert internal physician, Dr. David Nazarian.