Family Medicine and Internal Medicine: Determining the Differences

The first important step one must take while seeking medical help is to choose the right physician. You will have to choose from either family medicine specialists or internal medicine specialists. A vivid idea about both categories of doctors will help you make an informed choice according to your requirement.

What Does Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Deal In?

Family Medicine- Doctors, who have a good command over the family medicine, generally focus on providing treatment to patients of all ages i.e. both children and adults. So, if you consult a family medicine doctor, then you are seeking help from a person who has been trained for the health problems and the symptoms affecting every age-group, from infants, children, teenagers, to adults, and aged individuals.

Internal Medicine Doctor Image

Internal Medicine – Doctors associated with internal medicine are mainly trained to treat diseases of adults for general health issues. Moreover, these physicians are well-trained to treat skin ailments, eye diseases, mental health issues, bone health, sleeplessness, infectious diseases, pain-relieving medications, and more. Thus, physicians of internal medicine are capable to diagnose a wide range of health complications in adult men and women only.

Family Medicine and Internal Medicine – What are the Major Differences Between the Two?

1. Origin of the Two Medical Categories

Family Medicine evolved in the 1960s, with the emergence of medical primary care movement. With the advancement in the field of medicine, the relationship between doctor and patient was given emphasis on a long-term basis. Thus, family medicine came into being in which the overall treatment of the whole family was the main criteria, without distinguishing in terms of age, health complications, or type of treatment. Physicians of this category mainly concentrate on the preventive measures and also provide comprehensive treatment. This area of treatment covers chronic health issues and acute cases.

Family Medicine Physician Image

The origin of internal medicine, on the other hand, dates back to the late 1800s. In this category of medical practice, treatment of adult diseases were highlighted in which new scientific methods of treatment were incorporated. Internal medicine physicians deal with the adult patients only.

2. Distinction of Duties

Family practitioners lay stress on preventive care, like immunizations and regular check-ups. Acute conditions, such as the bladder or ear infections are also looked after by them. They also provide women with health care, family planning, and mental healthcare to patients who need it apart from treating emergency medical cases.

Internist duties, on the other hand, include treating common diseases and health problems, in addition to preventive care services. Internal practitioners are well-qualified, diagnosis experts who can find the reason behind the patient’s health problems.

3. Difference in Residencies and Training Programs

The medical students of both the specialties, i.e. family medicine and internal medicine begin their three-year residencies after the completion of their medical school courses. However, there is a basic difference in nature of their residencies. Family medicine residencies are based on office setting, and internal medicine residencies are mainly hospital-based.

For the family medicine residents, approximately one year of the inpatient training is conducted, while the next two years is divided into training among pediatrics, OB/GYN, and other outpatient medical areas. Their three-year residency training covers outpatient care, health issues affecting communities as a whole, and inpatient care.

The internal medicine residents receive exclusive training to take care of the hospitalized patients. Internal medicine doctors have to undertake three-year residency training after completing medical school. This course helps them to work in a hospital as a staff physician. However, physicians of internal medicine can also open their own clinics and treat the outpatients.

4. Comparison of Skills

Family doctors are trained to offer treatment to all kinds of medical issues for patients of all age-groups. They have a broader scope in the field of medicine as they deal with outpatient activities like Intrauterine device (IUD) placement, skin biopsies, joint injections, women and child health, orthopedics, and many more areas of medicine. Family physicians must also possess qualities to maintain strong bonds between patients and their families.

Family Medicine Doctor Image

Internal medicine doctors have a comprehensive expertise on common adult health issues. They handle complex health conditions where a single patient is affected by multiple ailments. Internists have to handle more critical diseases, so they develop a better skill of working under pressure.

In Conclusion

Now that you are aware of the difference between internal medicine and family medicine practitioners, choose a physician according to your medical needs. If your issue can be resolved by visiting a doctor of family medicine, make an appointment as soon as possible or visit an internal medicine practitioner.

Contributed by

If you have any questions, please ask below!