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Family Medicine vs Internal Medicine

Family medicine vs internal medicine residency, what do they mean and are there any differences between either of these?


A number of people have come to wonder what does doctor of internal medicine mean?

What you should know is these terms are one of out a good number of names and titles given to medical practitioners.

It should not come as a surprise hearing terms like primary care practitioners (PCPs), internists, or family doctors.

That being the case, Primary care physicians can either be family medicine doctors or internal medicine doctors ( internists).

Internal medicine doctors are, however, similar to adult pediatricians.

But more about that later.

Who is a Primary Care Doctor

Family Medicine vs Internal Medicine

A primary care doctor who is either a family medicine doctor vs internal medicine doctor is an important member when it comes to your health care team.

They provide guidance that can help you stay healthy and also offer treatment while monitoring your state of health.

Each doctor has their role, but in the end, they have a common goal to improve your state of health.

Thus, they are quite similar but the notable difference in the types of a patient they treat and the kind of training they’ve received.

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Accordingly, knowing the difference between both will enable you to choose a doctor that is specially tailored to meet your needs.

Primary care practitioners can be divided into:

  • Internist
  • Family practitioner
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Physician assistant

Facts About Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Practices

They Both Go by the Name of Primary Care Physicians:

As already stated above, family medicine and internal medicine doctors are both addressed as primary care physicians.

This is a physician who is in the first contact with a person whose current state of health is yet to be diagnosed.

They take up the task of diagnosing issues related to the organ and its causes.

There are also others that specialize in emergency cases and may attain to medical issues that are mild or critical.

Family Medicine Practitioners Attend to Children and Adults

The major difference between these practices are in who they see, and as such, family practitioners attend to both children and adults and that means, the health needs of a whole family.

Even though some may be specially tailored to focus on children and women, others specialized in health care for children and adults.

That being the case, they are general health practitioners whose treatment is not just limited to one organ of the body but are equipped to treat multiple medical conditions.

It could be diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis.

Internal Medicine Physicians Treat Only Adults

Internal medicine practitioners, on the contrary, see to the health care of adults and as a result, the person must be over 18 years.

They also go by the name of general internists and they can be classified as either generalists or sub-specialists.

They could also focus on areas such as cardiology or rheumatology.

Choosing Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine

Adults can either settle for a family practitioner or a general internal medicine physician.

Nonetheless, your choice of which will be determined by certain factors.

Notable among this is your convenience.

It is important to disclose as much information about your state of health to your doctor and that is why he or she must be someone you can confide with.

They may also need to take care of your entire family and for this reason, they must be someone you trust to discuss sensitive health topics about your family with.

Thus, your choice of family medicine vs internal medicine doctor is who you feel more comfortable with.

Do you want a doctor that can treat the whole house despite their age or one that treats only adults?

You decide.

When Should You See a Family Doctor?

You should see a family doctor if you’re feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, poison ivy, migraines, and other health-related issues.

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You can also see them for concerns you may have about your health because talking to a professional in the field can do a lot to help.

When Should You See an Internist?

If you’re an adult, then you may need to see an internist first.

They have been trained to specifically treat adults and a wide range of medical conditions.

It could be a broken wrist, sinus infection, or problems with the internal organs of the body.

Its also worthy to note that internist can handle conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

Will Insurance Cover Your Visit?

Insurance may sometimes cover a visit to a family doctor but there are times where it does not.

An instance is the smoking cessation counseling provided by some family doctors and such as session is not covered by insurance.

The best thing to do before each visit is to ask your doctor if it will be covered by your insurance or you’ll have to pay for it yourself.


Now that you know whats the difference between family practice and general practice, you are a better position to choose the right doctor that can see to you and your family’s health.

Irrespective of the fact that they may cater to a family or just adults, they have the same aim of improving a patient’s state of health.

Nonetheless, it is important to choose a doctor you and your family are most comfortable with because it’ll go the extra mile in solving a problem even before treatment is started.

This is because proper diagnosis for an ailment through the invaluable information you have provided means the best treatment for it is underway.



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