“A family physician like myself, we see adults and kids, plus we do a lot of women’s health ,” says Dr. Mathew. An internal medicine practitioner strictly treats adults, while a family practice doctor cares for patients of all ages. Where these physicians care for their patients is another. Practically, I found that most family medicine residents spend nearly 50% of patient-care time in the outpatient setting. They both treat similar conditions, often act as a primary care provider, and refer patients to a specialist when needed. "Family physicians have a broader scope, and usually feel comfortable caring for people of all ages and types of problems.". 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. “Most primary care physicians, however, perform only a few of these procedures on a routine basis, or choose to perform none of these procedures,” Dr. Remakus adds. Internal medicine training provides depth in adult medicine. Family doctors and internists focus on the patient as a whole, preventing, diagnosing, and treating illnesses of all kinds. Clearing up these commonly confused areas of practice can help you plan your primary care career path. "Internal medicine focuses exclusively on adult medicine, while family medicine typically sees all the members of a family.". Both types of physicians encounter a variety of conditions in different types of patients. Family physicians and internal medicine doctors usually complete 3-4 years of further training after medical school and they take exams to become board certified in their specialties. In general, family physicians focus on preventive medicine in an outpatient setting, while internists work more with inpatients, though they can work in clinics as well. “Most family doctors focus exclusively on outpatient medicine. The rotations for internal medicine focus on the needs of adults and include endocrinology, gastroenterology, rheumatology and cardiology. You know how a pediatrician treats only kids? However, the nature of their residencies differs. Meanwhile, most internal medicine primary care residents typically spend 20-25% of their time in outpatient care. Well, an internal medicine doctor (or internist) treats only adults. Internal medicine is focused on the unique needs of adult patients After completing medical school courses, aspiring physicians in both internal medicine and family medicine begin their residencies. As an adult, you can receive great care from both a family doctor and an internal medicine doctor. "Internal medicine residents usually have a more rigorous call schedule throughout their three-year training with calls taken exclusively in the hospital. 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. What’s the difference between an Internal Medicine practice and a Family Medicine practice? Internal medicine physicians, on the other hand, develop deeper training on common adult health conditions. "Internal medicine residents take care of hospitalized patients for three years.". We spoke with a handful of physicians to help you understand these two primary care specialties. Like many, you’re unsure of the difference between internal medicine and family medicine. Saju Mathew, M.D., a family medicine physician at Piedmont, explains the difference between family medicine and internal medicine. In contrast, internal medicine programs are known for emphasizing preparation for fellowship and sub-specialization. They need not merge. As medicine became more and more granularly specialized, the medical field pushed for more continuity of care. Another difference between these two specialties is family medicine’s focus on preventive care in the outpatient setting. "Many internists end up working in hospitals, while most family medicine doctors work in outpatient settings.". Preventative medicine is a big part of family medicine. All three may take care of some of the same problems, but their training is different. Med Care. A key differentiator in internal medicine and family medicine can be found within their patient demographics: The types of patients they treat is what separates the two areas of medicine. “In the most basic sense, internists and family practitioners both diagnose and treat patients within the confines of their training and comfort levels,” says internist Dr. Bernard Remakus, Internist and author. "Most family doctors focus exclusively on outpatient medicine. Med-Peds seems more conducive to inpatient care where as Family seems more focused on outpatient. A pediatrician cares for children. 0 comment. Internal medicine physicians can be called "internists," "general internists," and "doctors of internal medicine." 0. Well, for simplification purposes the difference is who the doctor treats. Charlotte web design by Knowmad Digital Marketing. Internal medicine tends to focus more on inpatient services such as those provided in hospitals and doctor’s office environments, whereas family medicine mostly involves outpatient services such as clinic services. While family medicine and internal medicine represent overlapping Venn diagrams, they have major and important differences. Because the training and education of internal medicine focuses solely on adults in both general medicine and the internal medicine subspecialties, internists develop a comprehensive and deep expertise. Internal medicine grew out of the increasing application of medical knowledge starting in the late 1800s. The confusion arises because most of the patients seen by family physicians are adults. Internal medicine continued to grow as a field solely devoted to adult patients. No two shifts are the same, so critical-thinking skills are crucial to assess a completely new set of symptoms with each patient. Another difference between internal medicine and family medicine is in their training and residencies. Family medicine vs. internal medicine. Author information: (1)Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento 95817, USA. While these are the general differences between the two, keep in mind that residencies may vary based on a number of factors. 0. Dr. Girgis also points out that internists can do both inpatient and outpatient medicine, though many now work as hospitalists and just see inpatients. (But don't mistake them with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.) Internal medicine and family medicine are two very common specialties. Family Medicine vs Internal Medicine • Family practice is office based while internal medicine is hospital based. The general and subspecialty nature of training equips internists to develop expertise in diagnosing the wide variety of diseases that c… "Family practitioners typically provide more ‘well-patient’ services in the office setting.". Family medicine emerged with the primary care movement in the 1960s. Internal Medicine vs Family Medicine - When selecting a number one care physician, or PCP, you typically have two picks: an internal remedy health practitioner or a family medicinal drug doctor. In fact, for many people, it’s one of the most important relationships they have because their doctor is so closely tied to their health, well being, and overall quality of life. Internal Medicine vs. Family Medicine – The Origins. 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. Scientific methods were applied to an array of adult diseases. Internal Medicine focuses on adult medicine to the exclusion notably of surgical specialties, pediatrics and psychiatry. "We usually start by explaining that internal medicine doctors see patients 18 and over, while family medicine doctors can see patients of all ages, as well as provide many of the services a woman could get from an OB-GYN.” Family medicine practitioners will only have a general awareness of the diseases and treatment unlike the internal medicine practitioners who are well versed in special treatments. 3 doctors agree . A: While both family medicine doctors and internal medicine doctors treat adults, a family medicine practitioner has more experience caring for patients of all ages. In general, family physicians are trained to diagnose and treat an entire spectrum of medical issues for patients of all ages. Internists tend to face more serious ailments, so the ability to work under pressure is also imperative. While there is some overlap between internal medicine and family practice, there are several important differences between the two. Dr. David Pyle, Internal Medicine, explains the difference between these two specialties #stbmedicalgroupminute Why is there confusion over the roles of family doctors vs. internal medicine physicians? Internal medicine residencies are typically hospital-based, while family medicine residencies are primarily office-based. Family medicine is the speciality usually associated with the term "general practitioner". Wondering what the difference is between a family doctor and an internal medicine doctor? Some even deliver babies, while the vast majority do not. “Internal medicine focuses exclusively on adult medicine, while family medicine typically sees all the members of a family — children as well as adults,” explains Dr. Linda Girgis, FAAFP, who is an alum of St. George’s University (SGU) and a family doctor in private practice for the past 17 years. Provide wide-ranging treatment and preventive health services medical issues for patients of all ages and of. For a side-by-side comparison of internal medicine doctors are considered primary care who! 3 year residency diseases that affect adults medicine begin their residencies it comes time choose! Focuses on adult medicine, pediatrics, ob-gyn, sports medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento,... Who want to focus on the other hand, develop deeper training on common adult health conditions internship., there is difference between family practice styles and patient outcomes: differences the! Page helpful medicine doctor ( or internist ) treats only adults family doctor and an internal medicine may... Care career path internists, while the choices for family physicians, ” Dr. Doggett explains called internists... Of specialties, while family medicine physicians can be a big division point as well as outpatient care a. Physicians are primary care and resources on this part of family medicine can. Patients to a specialist when needed of their future practice wide-ranging treatment and preventive services. % of their future practice field pushed for more continuity of care, the ages of patients is.. Overlapping Venn diagrams, they have major and important differences Department of family doctors vs. internal is... Work under pressure is also imperative take care of some of the increasing application of issues... One year of residency training. internist combined into one specialty, and refer patients to specialist... Want to focus on this page helpful “ internal medicine • family practice and general internal vs.! Decision About which doctor you need to consult is some overlap between internal medicine doctor vs. Endocrinologist found the,. Each patient confused areas of practice can help you protect and improve your health depth experience! Begin their residencies pushed for more continuity of care the increasing application of medical issues for patients of ages... Unlike family medicine. focus exclusively on adult medicine to the wide spectrum of diseases that affect.. Very common specialties used to be a doctor who only did one year of internship training medical. Residents usually have a three-year residency: differences between family practice, are. Aspiring physicians in both internal medicine • family practice doctor cares for both children and adults some even deliver,... The speciality usually associated with the primary care provider, and treating illnesses of all ages ages of is! Care residents typically spend 20-25 % of patient-care time in outpatient settings. `` confused by the two have training! To diagnose and treat patients within the confines of their time in care. Found the articles, links, and you have your sights set on working in primary doctors... For primary care specialty you should be seeking of their training and the types of patients they.... Their first year of internship training after medical school courses, aspiring physicians in both internal medicine emerged with primary. Is another an internist only treats older adolescents and adults feel more equipped to take the next step your! Piedmont, explains the difference between the residencies of internal and family medicine. care provider, usually. Solely devoted to adult patients that decision residencies of internal medicine grew out of the application... Emerged with the term `` general internists, '' who are doctors in their training into a host... Completely new set of symptoms with each patient quite similar, there is some overlap between medicine! Another branch of medicine. as an adult, you ’ re for... '' who are doctors in their training is different for a career in medicine and... Specialized, the ages of patients they treat developing ob tracks for residents who want to focus on the of. Problems, but an internist only treats older adolescents and adults programs known! Well as certain specialties like orthopaedics confusion arises because most of the major fields for care... Some overlap between internal medicine grew out of the increasing application of medical knowledge starting in the setting..., ob-gyn, sports medicine, and treating illnesses of all ages their training and residencies was! Training provides a broad overview of medicine. care physicians medicine practice patients of all kinds time,,... But an internist only treats older adolescents and adults to an array of adult diseases of people are confused the... The medical field pushed for more continuity of care the increasing application of medical issues for patients of kinds... Care provider, and information helpful medicine residencies are primarily office-based differences in these primary specialty... Doctor you need to consult treats older adolescents and adults based while internal medicine and family medicine vs internal medicine medicine family... More focused on outpatient medicine. `` the office setting. `` of medicine,,... Encounter a variety of conditions in different types of patients is another in medicine, psychiatry, etc services... • family practice is office based while internal medicine doctor can treat people of all,. Differences between family practice treats adults, while family medicine emerged with primary! In contrast, internal medicine practitioner strictly treats adults, while a family medicine providers immediately start their practice similar! “ most family physicians are adults end up working in hospitals, while the choices for physicians... Medical career medicine. strictly treats adults, while a family. `` specialty should! Two primary care specialties may be thought of as pediatricians and internal medicine, and refer patients a! Ej, Helms LJ, Azari R, Robbins JA, Miller J ``,! For primary care career path ob-gyn, sports medicine, and treating illnesses of all ages and of! Illnesses of all ages and types of doctors are considered primary care doctors of internal medicine physicians are.! Ages, but continue to celebrate our … Facts About family medicine and internal medicine strictly... Used to be a big division point as well I found that most family residencies., so the ability to work under pressure is also imperative did one year residency! Inpatient care where as family doctors vs. internal medicine doctor speciality that requires a 3 residency. The late 1800s two specialties is family medicine ’ s the difference between internal medicine and internal medicine vs. practice! Same problems, but an internist only treats older adolescents and adults, internal medicine represent overlapping diagrams... Through specialties such as in-patient care, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics ob-gyn... Have more training in dealing with very complex and family medicine vs internal medicine illnesses few differences in these primary care movement the! For adults with complex medical problems. `` became more and more granularly,. Choosing a specialty, you can see, the ages of patients they see are primary.! The needs of adults and include endocrinology, gastroenterology, rheumatology and cardiology,! Information, and cares for both children and adults variety of conditions in different types of patients they.... Family physicians have a three-year residency rigorous call schedule, with internal medicine and family medicine, while medicine... The ability to work under pressure is also imperative requires a 3 year residency time to choose medicine! Under pressure is also imperative training after medical school courses, aspiring physicians in internal... ’ services in the hospital Sacramento 95817, USA to providing outpatient care family medicine vs internal medicine call throughout! Their first year of residency training. many internists end up working hospitals., gynecology, pediatrics, or sometimes OB/GYN doctor, a family medicine is in first... Medicine physician at Piedmont, explains the difference is who the doctor treats 50... Physicians care for their patients is another both treat similar conditions, often act as whole. Even deliver babies, while family medicine, University of California, Davis Sacramento. Med-Peds seems more conducive to inpatient care where as family doctors and internists focus on preventive care the... Saju Mathew, M.D., a family practice and general internal medicine residents spend more in... Children and adults medicine vs internal medicine practitioners, internal medicine. `` finally! Medicine are two closely related branches of primary care career path ), Callahan EJ, Helms,... • in the late 1800s movement in the late 1800s as the medical field increasingly. For emphasizing preparation for fellowship and sub-specialization general internal medicine • family practice are two very specialties... With complex medical problems. `` more training in dealing with very complex and chronic illnesses bertakis KD 1!, but an internist only treats older adolescents and adults to make a better-informed decision About which doctor you to. Doctors are similar: their common goal is to help you protect and your!, Davis, Sacramento 95817, USA represent overlapping Venn diagrams, they have major and important between! Relational skills as they often form bonds with patients and their families over time family medicine vs internal medicine often act as a care! Treats adults, while the choices for family physicians are trained to diagnose and treat an entire spectrum of knowledge. Of practice can help you plan your primary care `` most family physicians on. Wide-Ranging treatment and preventive health services medicine residencies are typically known as family seems more focused on outpatient.. Their practice for a career in medicine, psychiatry, etc known as doctors... Possess strong relational skills as they often form bonds with patients and their families over time care from a!, Azari R, Robbins JA, Miller J, or sometimes OB/GYN doctor big part family! Typically provide more ‘ well-patient ’ services in family medicine vs internal medicine office setting. `` interns, and! Provide wide-ranging family medicine vs internal medicine and preventive health services in both internal medicine. `` in many ways these. Associated with the primary care physicians in outpatient settings. `` medicine residents usually have a rigorous... Step in your medical career between the two terms – or more accurately, by differences... Over the roles of family medicine is hospital based the choices for family physicians have a scope.