You can turn to many types of doctors for specific medical concerns. In many cases, there is an overlap in the medical care certain doctors can provide. Such is the case with primary care physicians (PCP), family doctors, and internists. These medical professionals share a common goal, which is to help improve your overall health. When looking for the right physician for your needs, it’s helpful to know the differences of medical expertise. Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between primary care physicians (PCP), family doctors, and internists.
Primary Care Physician (PCP)
A primary care physician is the healthcare professional you see first when your medical concern isn’t an emergency. You can think of them as your main doctor.
PCPs help you stay healthy or get better when you’re sick. They are responsible for dealing with most common illnesses that affect people of all ages. When needed, they can coordinate with specialists for your treatment.
PCPs are knowledgeable about everyday health concerns. You can ask them questions you might have about infections, chronic conditions, medications, and much more.
A PCP may be any of the following medical professionals:
- Family medicine doctors (or family practitioners)
- Geriatric medicine doctors
- Internal medicine doctors
- Obstetricians and gynecologists
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants also provide primary care
Establishing a relationship with your PCP means you have a partner in your long-term care. A PCP can help you detect various health issues and keep them under control.
Internal medicine and family medicine doctors are PCPs. Choosing your PCP becomes easier once you understand the differences between internal medicine and family medicine.
What Is Family Medicine?
Family medicine is the medical specialty committed to providing comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.
Residents under family practice can take hospital calls during rotation. They typically provide medical services in outpatient settings, as well. Compared to internists, family doctors have more outpatient training.
Family physicians also receive broader training in medicine and subspecialties. This includes internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, psychiatry, and geriatrics, among others. This comprehensive training helps them diagnose and treat a wider range of medical issues across all ages.
In addition to diagnosing and treating illnesses, family physicians focus on disease prevention and chronic illness management. They may also coordinate with specialists when treating patients with complicated or multiple health conditions.
Who Do Family Doctors Treat?
While medical specialties are sometimes limited by the age group of the patient or the particular body system being treated, family physicians can provide comprehensive care for any kind of patient. Kids, adults, and even the elderly can visit a family doctor.
The patient population of a family doctor typically has a variety of health challenges, such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, hypertension, and asthma, among others.
What Is Internal Medicine?
Internal medicine is a medical specialty dedicated to preventing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of adult diseases.
Internal medicine doctors receive extensive training in the body’s internal organ systems. That’s why they’re called internists.
Internal medicine doctors train to deal with medical problems ranging from simple to complex. Their expertise includes both general medicine and subspecialties. Subspecialty training includes allergy and immunology, cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, nephrology, oncology, pulmonology, and rheumatology.
Unlike family doctors, internists are more likely to work in hospital environments. They are usually members of a caregiving team, and they coordinate a patient’s treatment with other healthcare providers.
Who Do Internists Treat?
While family doctors diagnose and treat patients of any age, internists only treat older adolescents and adults.
Internists diagnose and treat most common medical issues that may develop throughout adult life. This can range from minor issues like sinus infections or sprains and strains to more serious conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
If your condition is beyond their scope, they know how to effectively collaborate with specialists in managing complex illnesses and situations.
Internists also help deal with preventive care. They enhance the patients’ understanding of diseases and promote wellness and healthy living.
Internal Medicine in Irmo, SC
SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation, LLC provides the best medical science available in caring for patients through thoughtful, meaningful doctor-patient relationships. We diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions in adults.
To schedule an appointment, contact our providers at (803) 749-1111 or use our secure online appointment request form.