What Is the Difference Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine?
They both take care of your overall health, they both treat chronic diseases and they both interpret medical tests.
So what is the difference between doctors who practice internal medicine and those who are involved in family medicine?
We know it’s confusing. You may be wondering if you should go to a family doctor (also called a GP or general practitioner) or an internal medicine doctor. This information will help you make the decision.
What Is Internal Medicine?
To understand what internal medicine is, you must first understand the two parts of it.
One part centers around laboratory science. This means evaluating tests and examining bloodwork.
The other part centers around a personal approach to medicine.
This combination means internal medicine physicians are experts at treating those who may have several serious, complicated diseases.
Internal medicine physicians are also well-versed at taking a look at how problems in one area of your body can affect other areas. For this reason, they’re great at helping those who have one or more chronic illnesses.
In addition, doctors specializing in internal medicine have had extensive training in both outpatient and inpatient settings.
What Does an Internal Medicine Doctor Do?
In many ways, internal medicine doctors do the same things that family doctors do.
They treat illnesses such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Sinus infections
They can also perform yearly physicals and regular cancer screenings.
An internal medicine doctor is called an internist. (Not to be confused with the term “intern.” An intern is a doctor who is completing training.)
Internal Medicine or Family Medicine?
The main confusion is that both of these specialties treat adults with chronic illnesses. The main difference is that family doctors will sometimes also treat children, “tweens” or teenagers.
The reason you often don’t see children at a family medicine practice is that most parents opt to have their children treated by a pediatrician.
While most patients seen by family physicians are adults, the American College of Physicians estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the family medicine patients are children.
By contrast, internal medicine physicians solely treat adults.
Why You Should Have an Annual Physical Exam
The purpose of an annual exam extends beyond your health. It’s a chance for us to get to know you. This way, you can stay connected to your doctor. You can discuss important health issues such as cancer screenings.
Annual exams are also a great time for us to speak with you about lifestyle issues—such as diet and exercise—that can prevent more serious diseases.
We can also compare lab work from year to year to be sure medicines for conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are working.
During a screening, your doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner may:
- Check your vital signs
- Update any vaccinations needed
- Perform a physical exam
- Discuss your health care goals
- Provide treatment recommendations
- Help reduce your risk for diseases
- Manage your medications
Preparing for Your Annual Exam
We always suggest having a list of questions you’d like to have answered. This way, you won’t forget anything.
You’ll never feel rushed at your appointment, and we’ll take the time to answer your questions and address your concerns.
It’s also important that you always provide an updated list of medications that you are taking. This includes any vitamins, herbal or natural supplements. Sometimes these can interact with certain medications, so we want to be sure we have all the information we need.
Primary Care at Conway Medical Center
At our Primary Care Center, we treat those of all ages. This means we’re perfect to provide care for your entire family. Whether you have a common cold or you need help managing diabetes, we’ve got you covered.
Not only do we offer quality care—we offer convenience. We have several locations spread throughout Horry County, so it’s likely there’s a practice near you.
We also have same-day appointments for sick visits at all of our Primary Care locations.
Another benefit is that you’ll have easy access to our specialty services team of experts. This includes everything from digestive health to orthopedics.
You’ll also benefit from our Duke Health-affiliated cancer treatment and cardiology programs.
Conway Medical Center: Compassionate Care You Can Trust
We are dedicated to improving health and saving lives. No matter your need, we are here to help and provide the best in care in a safe and nurturing environment.
Take a closer look at our extensive services and schedule an appointment today.