It’s often confusing for many people to tell the differences between an internal medicine physician and a family medicine physician when looking to find a primary care physician. They share a lot in common, and while it can be a hard feat starkly contrasting them, there are some clear distinctions.
Internal Medicine Physician
An internist (not to be confused with an intern doctor) specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of various ailments and complex conditions affecting people in their adulthood with a focus on organs and internal systems. While family physicians focus primarily on outpatients, internists focus on both outpatient and inpatient care. Internist primary care doctors establish continuous relationships and keep diagnosis and treatment records of their patients from early adulthood through to old age. They monitor a wide class of patients, some with complex conditions, in their journey from inpatient to outpatient and vice versa. You can check out Partida Corona Medical Center, experts in internal primary care medicine.
Internists are also required to undergo a three-year residency program before practice, and some choose to enroll in subspecialty training in medical fields like oncology, dermatology, pediatrics, etc. Those with subspecialty training in pediatrics can diagnose and treat both adults and children.
As you can note, the main similarities making the two indistinguishable is the overlapping nature of the adult groups they treat. Depending on your needs, you can settle for either as your primary care physician.
Family Medicine Physician
A family medicine physician is trained to treat a wide range of medical complications and conditions that cut across all ages. Family medicine is focused on providing treatment and care for all members of a family unit, that is to say, from infants to the elderly. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean a person cannot have a family physician as a primary care doctor if they don’t have a family. Some patients may receive care from the same family physician from infancy to adulthood.
They are trained to tackle a wide range of diseases and conditions because they deal with patients from all age groups. A family physician must undergo a three-year residency program that includes pediatric medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, psychiatry, radiology, urology, and many more.
Choosing an Internal Medicine Physician or a Family Medicine Physician
Choosing between the two can be daunting as they both qualify as primary care doctors. They both diagnose and treat a variety of diseases and conditions in all stages and monitor disease progression. Based on their training, family physicians are more inclined to deal with general preventative medicine with an outpatient setting focus. They should have top-notch relational skills as they form long-term relationships with patients. On the other hand, internists undergo rigorous training on more serious ailments and spend lots of time monitoring patients within an inpatient setting.
Your weighing options between the two will ultimately largely be personalized. Factors such as your family members ( a family doctor can be the best option for children), existing medical conditions and illnesses, and more will come into play to guide your decision. There are lots of benefits that accrue from choosing both of them.
Tips on Choosing a Primary Care Physician
Whether you have settled on a family or internist primary care doctor, there are some details you might consider knowing concerning them to be certain it’s the fittest choice for you or your family’s long-term health.
How do they handle their members’ emergency appointments? This is a crucial question as nothing is more pertinent than to schedule a quick appointment in case of an emergency that can’t wait.
You’ll need to see through a list of hospitals the doctor works within the case an admission to stay in a hospital is required. Confirm that they accept your insurance and assess other privileges offered.
Ease of Communication
How do they process routine health questions from patients? Do they have an active email system? Some doctors regularly ensure they communicate with their patients about their health concerns without necessarily a one-on-one meeting.
You can make a list of personal expectations and use it as a yardstick for reviewing what you would expect from your primary care doctor and if they meet the criteria.
Is their location convenient to you? How far is it from your office or home? It’s important to consider where your primary care doctor will be located for timely appointment schedules and faster access in case of emergencies.