Sometimes the terms internal medicine and family medicine are used interchangeably, but they actually are not the same. The two areas of expertise can be very different. If you’ve been wondering how the two compare and contrast, you’re in the right place. Let’s explore what makes these medical fields the same and what sets them apart.
When it comes to internal and family medicine, one of the main differences is the served patients. Internal medicine caters to adults, while family medicine is available for patients of all ages.
Also, you will likely find internal medicine practitioners working in hospitals, whereas family medicine professionals often work in offices. This trend begins when professionals start their residencies. In general, internal medicine residencies are in hospitals, and family medicine residencies are in offices. Either field, though, can serve both inpatient and outpatient needs.
Due to the work atmosphere of these medical professionals, they tend to perform different duties. Internal medicine providers often work with patients that have more complex medical problems because of working in hospitals. In offices, family medicine doctors typically handle more preventative and well-patient care.
In family medicine, there is a much larger focus on preventative care than in internal medicine. Family medicine physicians can serve patients before they have serious problems, where often, internal medicine doctors are trying to fix an already progressed medical situation.
This also leads to a significant difference in schedules for these practitioners and their patients. Internal medicine physicians work around the clock. Their shifts can vary from day to day and week to week, including nights and weekends. Working in an office, family medicine providers typically work a steady daytime schedule, rarely including nights or weekends.
While the basis of internal and family medicine is the same, it’s obvious these two specialties have a lot of differences. Understanding these differences can make it easier for you to find the right provider for yourself or your loved ones.