The similarities and differences between internists and family care practitioners often confuse patients. While these two specialties sometimes overlap, they have distinctions, patient demographics, duties, and training. Understanding these differences can help you identify the appropriate primary care doctor for your medical needs.
Internal Medicine and Family Medicine
Internists, or internal medicine doctors, specializing in internal medicine. Emerging in the late 1800s, this field of medicine focuses on the care of adults. It addresses multiple medical conditions that are common in patients age 18 and above.
In contrast, family care practitioners specialize in family medicine. The field of family medicine began in the 1960s. It is continuous healthcare that caters to patients of all ages and backgrounds.
Although different in specialization and focus, both fields of medicine have training in general medical and health needs.
The primary distinction between an internist and a family care practitioner is their respective patient demographics. Internists care for adults, while family care practitioners care for both children and adults.
Internists focus on the unique health risks and conditions associated with adulthood and advanced age. On the other hand, family care physicians generally address health issues from infancy to adulthood. They usually see all the members of a family, regardless of age.
The day-to-day duties of internists and family care practitioners sometimes overlap. They can perform minor medical procedures, such as simple fracture care, excision of skin lesions, and laceration repair. They can also conduct diagnostic procedures, such as gynecological testing and flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Patient Care Setting
Since the focus of internal medicine doctors and family medicine doctors is providing day to day healthcare to patients, they most often practice in an outpatient setting. In an outpatient setting, physicians provide their services in clinics or offices to many patients every day. Outpatient services include basic medical examinations, consultations, assessing symptoms to give diagnoses, ordering tests, and writing prescriptions.
Internists and Family Care Practitioners in South Carolina
As we age, building a meaningful doctor-patient relationship becomes increasingly important. Knowing the differences between internists and family care practitioners can help you choose the best primary care physician for yourself. Both types of physicians are highly qualified and can take care of a multitude of healthcare needs that may arise in your life. However, when it comes down to choosing one over the other, you should assess your needs before deciding.
If you have a family with children, a family doctor may be a better choice for you. This way, you can all get the healthcare services you need from the same provider. However, if you are an adult with no children, an internal medicine doctor may be better suited for you.
At SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation, our providers specialize in internal medicine and family medicine. We also have a Sleep Lab and a Center for Medical Weight Loss for your other essential needs. To provide you with lifelong supportive care, our medical providers commit to building meaningful and long-term relationships with our patients.
You may contact us at (803) 749-1111, or request an appointment online. We are looking forward to hearing from you.