Family medicine doctors work with both children and adult patients. They typically work in an outpatient setting, diagnosing and treating a variety of illnesses. They also perform physical exams, health screenings, and provide general preventive care. Family doctors receive extensive training to treat most conditions and provide comprehensive health care for all, regardless of age.
In an effort to promote continuity of care in physician-patient relationships, family medicine emerged in the 1960s in response to the increasing fragmentation of the medical field through specialization. While other specialists work with a particular age group, disease, or organ, family medicine addresses the entire family unit, from young children to older adults, along with a wide range of conditions. Internal medicine is another specialty within the primary care family. Internal medicine doctors, also called internists, work with adult patients on many common diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure.
They also offer health screenings and general preventive medicine. Some work in hospitals, while others work in clinics or doctors' offices. The roots of internal medicine go back further than family medicine, and it emerged in the late 19th century as medicine became increasingly scientific. Science-backed diagnostic and treatment approaches were applied to a range of common diseases in adults.
As the field of pediatrics became a discipline dedicated to children, internal medicine emerged to meet the primary care needs of adults. Today, internists continue to treat all types of diseases in adults, from common ailments to serious and chronic diseases and rare and complicated conditions. Geriatrics is another area of medicine that isn't always considered primary care, even though it's needed more and more as the baby boomer population ages. Working in geriatrics means focusing more on the patient's well-being and on maintaining their independent functioning.
Geriatricians work in private offices, group offices, long-term care centers and hospitals. If you're ready to start your path to a career in primary care, it's time to research the education and training you'll need to endure. To learn more about what you can expect from programs at St. George's University and see how they can help you get started in primary care, visit our article, “Ten Surprising Facts About the SGU School of Medicine”.
People sometimes use “family doctor,” “primary care doctor,” and “internist” interchangeably. However, it's important to know the differences between doctors when looking for a new primary care doctor. Both general practitioners and internists are primary care doctors. Both offer health care for adults.
However, general practitioners and internists are not the same thing. So what's the difference between a general practitioner and an internist?. Beyond that, general practitioners are a great resource for keeping up to date on all necessary vaccines and preventive care. General practitioners can prescribe medications, lifestyle recommendations, and follow-up care for chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and some mental health conditions.
One of the most important functions of the general practitioner is to perform routine exams to detect health problems. In an emergency, a general practitioner can provide lifesaving treatment until emergency services arrive. If you're looking for a new primary care doctor, internists and general practitioners may be good options. The general practitioner's duties include evaluating you through a physical exam and a review of your medical history.
Also called family doctors or internists, general practitioners often establish an ongoing relationship with you, which provides continuity in care. If you're seeking treatment for a physical or mental health problem, your first point of contact is likely to be a general practitioner. A general practitioner is a doctor who works in clinical settings, such as urgent care centers, hospitals, and clinics. In the case of a mental health crisis, your family doctor may connect you with a mental health specialist.
One of the biggest distinctions between an internist and a general practitioner is that, while internists usually treat only adults, general practitioners are trained to provide care for patients of all ages. The general practitioner also treats patients of all ages, except for milder illnesses, such as the common cold, which affects the entire body. General practitioners offer general medical services to patients of all ages, but they don't usually specialize in a particular area. A general practitioner can use laboratory tests to diagnose a disease, prescribe medications as treatment, assess your general health, and connect you with a specialist if necessary.
General practitioners work as part of a larger team that includes nurses, pharmacists, psychiatrists, and others to support their holistic (whole-body) care. .