What Makes Family Medicine Different from Internal Medicine?

Regardless of the part of the world you live, you would want to get the services of the best doctor near you. This is because employing the services of the primary doctor near you would make you feel safe. This is true for everyone, irrespective of their economic status.

Medicine is the science of disease diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. The scope of medicine covers all health conditions apart from surgery. So, it is safe to say that physicians work to keep us healthy. Yet, it is a broad field and so needs specialization.

Some of such specializations are family medicine and internal medicine. A physician in any of these fields is often a general practitioner. As such, family and internal medicine physicians may have similar roles. Yet, there are some variations in the job descriptions of the two practices.

This article presents an overview of the roles of a general care physician in both practices. The information here will guide you in seeking proper medical care. You can be sure that your choice is the best general care physician near you.

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Internal Medicine and Family Medicine – An Overview

“What differentiates an internal doctor from a family doctor?” People often confuse the roles of doctors in both practices. The overlapping roles of family and internal doctors often breed such confusion.

Both internal medicine doctors and family medicine doctors are primary health physicians. Yet, they differ in duties, training, skill, and the demographics of their patients.

Understanding the differences between these practices can help you make better choices with your healthcare. Hence, the next time you ask Google, “How do I get the best doctor near me?” you can make an informed choice while picking the doctor who would best suit your condition and requirement. Understanding the doctor’s specialization, knowing their availability, and the kind of insurance they accept are some of the factors that can greatly influence your healthcare experience.

These general practitioners are excellent in their fields. So, you cannot go wrong with your choice. Yet, making an informed choice for your family’s health and personal well-being is wise.

1. Who is an Internal Medicine Doctor?

An internal medicine doctor or an internist is a primary care doctor who cares for adults. Internists diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases in adult patients. They have several pieces of training in medical subspecialties. As such, internists can handle various health conditions in adults.

Most internists take further courses after the completion of their three-year residency. These courses enable them to train in other subspecialties of adult health conditions. Thus, most internists have certifications in courses such as dermatology and geriatrics.

Internists may also get certifications in courses that are common to their patients. Such courses may include rheumatology, oncology, cardiology, and neurology.


An intern is not an internist. Although both terms sound similar, they have different meanings. An intern is a student undergoing field training. In contrast, an internist is a doctor who has experienced all the necessary training.

2. Who is a Family Medicine Doctor?

A family medicine doctor is a general care physician who is capable of treating the entire family. This primary health physician treats patients of all ages. Family medicine doctors often treat the same patients throughout their careers. They have the complete medical history of a person and their family. So, they often become part of such families.

These general care physicians offer four types of medicine. The categories include pediatrics, adolescent care, adult medicine, and geriatrics.

Thus, family doctors have a broader job specification than internists. So, a family medicine doctor’s residency includes obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics training.

Having a wide range of training is logical because they will consult for the whole family.

Differences between Internal Medicine and Family Medicine

The differences between internal medicine and family medicine may still be a blur. So, here are some clear-cut differences between general practitioners in each practice:

1. Variation in Training

There is a notable difference in the training of internists and family doctors. The diversity in their training during residency influences their approach to patient care.

During residency, family doctors attend to the same inpatient for a year. They then train in pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, and other medical sectors. The residency period is about 3 years.

In contrast, internists manage hospitalized patients during their 3-year residency. During residency, they also learn medical subspecialty care, emergency medicine, and critical care.

2. Patient Demographics

An internist cares for adult patients. The scope of internal medicine covers adult medical conditions. Internal medicine doctors often train for adult-related diseases. Also, they often work in hospitals.

Family medicine doctors work with patients of all ages. They often treat outpatients and may serve the same families throughout their careers.

3. Variations in Duties

Family doctors often treat patients in an office and rarely treat hospitalized patients. In contrast, an internal doctor diagnoses and treats patients in offices or hospitals.

4. Skills

A family doctor has the skills and experience to manage various health conditions. These doctors know about diseases of patients of all ages. They also enroll other experts in treatment when a patient needs advanced care.

An internist has the skills to manage complex health conditions in adults. This general practitioner can handle chronic illnesses and provides primary care to patients.

Choosing the Right Doctor Near Me

All general practitioners can treat your condition. Yet, your choice depends on your preferences. You can receive optimal care from a family medicine doctor as an adult.

Both internists and family medicine doctors collaborate with specialists on complex health issues. They also handle complex medical problems. Both of these general practitioners have expertise, knowledge, and skills.

Although their roles overlap, they have different training and skill sets. Understanding their roles helps us to appreciate both practices. You can also make informed choices when seeking medical help.


This article explains what makes family medicine different from internal medicine. You have learned that a family doctor treats patients of all ages. The internist treats adult health conditions. Finding the right doctor is easy when choosing between a family doctor and an internist.

You can trust that you are safe if you have these primary care doctors around you. Thus, when choosing, you should find someone you can trust.

Trust is important because you will disclose your health history to your doctor. You will need to trust them to keep the patient-doctor confidentiality.

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