Difference Between Internal Medicine and Family Practice (With Table)

Many primary healthcare specialties exist, making it difficult for prospective doctors to decide which one they want to. When it comes to differentiating between internal medicine and family medicine, both of which are commonly referred to as “general practitioners,” it can get quite tricky. Similar is the case with Internal Medicine and Family Practice.

Internal Medicine vs Family Practice

The difference between Internal Medicine and Family Practice is that in keeping with its name, family medicine focuses on providing healthcare for the entire family, from infants to the aged. On the other hand, internal medicine training concentrates solely on adults, including expertise in both primary care and internal medicine specializations.

According to the American College of Physicians (ACP), internal medicine practitioners care for patients throughout their lives, from adolescence to old age. As a result of their specific training, they can solve complex diagnostic puzzles, as well as severe serious diseases and scenarios in which many ailments.

Family practice is indeed very comprehensive in that one may build a personal relationship with the patients and members of their group, serving patients at any point in life. Typically, a primary healthcare professional is a patient’s initial entry point into the medical system, and the physician people turn towards first for any healthcare needs.

Comparison Table Between Internal Medicine and Family Practice

Parameters of ComparisonInternal MedicineFamily Practice
Focused on groupElderly patients are the cornerstone of internal medicine.Children and adults alike are treated in family medicine. Consequently, a family physician will be well-versed in illnesses and difficulties that impact elderly, from newborns to seniors, when one arranges an appointment with the same.
Training Base levelIn addition, internal medicine professionals undergo training in general health and surgical issues (including preventative care), however this practice is geared toward adults.Care and wellness issues impacting patients of all age groups are taught to family medicine physicians.
Hospital CareInternists are much more inclined to give medical treatment in addition to outpatient treatment in their offices. Both inpatient & outpatient clinical services are a specialty of internists, who have received extensive training and instruction.Inpatient care isn’t out of the question for a family practice doctor, but much of their expertise is focused on outpatient treatments, with inpatient requirements handled to specialists.
Specialized inInternal medicine is a field of competence. Diagnostics and treatment of major organ illnesses are part of its scope.People and families of all ages and genders can benefit from family medicine, which is part of primary care.
Dealing with PediatricsObstetrics and pediatrics are not part of an internist’s training. Adult medicine is the primary focus of these residents.Besides working with geriatric internal medicine, family medicine residents are required to complete pediatric rotations as part of their residency training.

What is Internal Medicine?

As for internal medicine doctors, they’re also equally important. As a result, they specialize in adult health. Children or newborns, on the other hand, are not treated by physicians that specialize in internal medicine are confronted with a variety of medical practices, similar to a family. 

It appears that internists are increasingly choosing to subspecialize in a certain discipline, which allows them to become more informed in their chosen area of specialization as a result.

As a result of their continuous outpatient experiences during training, internists can very well provide medical services to adults, especially for clinically complicated cases. 

Additionally, their skills enable them to effectively collaborate with one‘s internal medicine subspecialty coworkers in tackling different patients (like those with implants, cancer, or immune-deficiency) as well as smoothly transitioning sick people from outpatient to inpatient settings (and conversely) when they require hospitalization.

What is Family Practice?

There are many subjects that family practice physicians cover, not all of which are restricted to pediatrics, adult medicines, and gynecology as well as surgical patient skin care as well as critical care, sports medicine, and mental wellbeing as well as radiology and nuclear medicine.

A family practice physician treats patients of various ages, genders, and orientations. The continuity of treatment that a family physician provides is one of the biggest advantages of visiting one. As a medical partner, a family physician helps patients remain healthy, manage chronic disorders like diabetes or heart disease, and finding relevant ailments such as chest pains or herpes

As a medical partner, a family physician helps patients remain healthy, manage chronic disorders like diabetes or heart disease, and finding relevant ailments such as chest pains or herpes. As per the American Academy of Family Physicians, they also interact with other professionals when specialized care is needed (AAFP).

Main Differences Between Internal Medicine and Family Practice

  1. Elderly patients are the cornerstone of internal medicine. Whereas children and adults alike are treated in family medicine. Consequently, a family physician will be well-versed in illnesses and difficulties that impact the elderly, from newborns to seniors, when one arranges an appointment with the same.
  2. In addition, internal medicine professionals undergo training in general health and surgical issues (including preventative care). However, this practice is geared toward adults. On the other hand, care and wellness issues impacting patients of all age groups are taught to family medicine physicians.
  3. Internists are much more inclined to give medical treatment in addition to outpatient treatment in their offices. Both inpatient & outpatient clinical services are a specialty of internists, who have received extensive training and instruction, whereas inpatient care isn’t out of the question for a family practice doctor, but much of their expertise is focused on outpatient treatments, with inpatient requirements handled to specialists.
  4. Internal medicine is a field of competence. Diagnostics and treatment of major organ illnesses are part of its scope. On the other hand, people and families of all ages and genders can benefit from family medicine, which is part of primary care.
  5. Obstetrics and pediatrics are not part of an internist’s training. Adult medicine is the primary focus of these residents, whereas besides working with geriatric internal medicine, family medicine residents are required to complete pediatric rotations as part of their residency training.

Conclusion

There is no clear-cut winner between internal medicine and family medicine. Aspiring physicians must first attend a medical school that can offer them the foundational training they need to be productive before deciding on a specialization.

These two categories of physicians deal with a wide range of medical ailments and patients. As the US Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, both internists, as well as family physicians, should examine a new range of traits with each individual, which sounds plausible. 

The capacity to work under pressure is also essential for internists, who have to deal with more serious cases of illness. Since they spend so much time with patients and their families, family physicians must also have good interpersonal skills.

References

  1. https://www.jabfm.org/content/16/6/485.short
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3767005
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