Internal Medicine vs Family Medicine: Which provider should you choose?
A question often asked in clinic is which type of provider will fit my personal and physical needs to ensure optimal health outcomes. So, what exactly is the difference between an internal medicine provider (also referred to as an internist) and a family medicine provider when choosing a provider. Below are listed similarities and differences but ultimately the choice is a personal one depending on the situation.
Both family medicine and internal medicine providers can be a choice for a primary care provider (PCP) for adult patients (typically 18 and above). They can provide general health maintenance services such as an annual physical/wellness exam as well as chronic disease management and most same day visits. As part of training, both specialties undergo a 3-year residency before practicing independently in a clinical setting.
One of the main differences between internal medicine and family medicine is the age range of patients they are trained to provide medical care for. Family medicine typically sees any age of patient including pregnant patients in some practices vs internal medicine who sees patients aged 18 and older in general. Of course, there are always exceptions such as Lakeview physician, Dr. Peter Rogers who is both a pediatrician and internal medicine doctor.
In general, internal medicine training has a larger focus on chronic diseases and specialty care such as cardiology and gastroenterology. They spend more time in the hospital and intensive care settings as opposed to family medicine training which is more typically spent in the outpatient setting. Family Medicine residencies focus more on procedures such as toenail removals, IUD placements, skin biopsies, casting, and joint injections.
- Sees adults only (~18 years and older).
- Typically have more training and exposure to chronic disease management, specialty care, and geriatrics.
- Training is based more in the hospital setting as well as critical care areas such as an ICU.
- Typically sees more “complex” patients in the outpatient setting such as patients who have needed recurrent hospitalizations or multiple specialty needs.
- Performs annual physicals and wellness visits.
- Sees a full spectrum of patients including obstetrics and pediatrics. Providers can see the whole family.
- Typically have more training in orthopedics, urgent care, and emergency medicine such as laceration repairs and procedures described above.
- Performs annual physicals and wellness exams.
Disclaimer: The above description of each specialty are generalizations. Each provider has unique skills and interests that may differ from the above information. For more information on each provider, please visit the provider section of the Lakeview clinic website.
Internal Medicine M.D.
Jordyn Walter, M.D. began practicing Internal Medicine at Lakeview Clinic in 2022. Dr. Walter has special interests in chronic disease management such as diabetes, heart failure and hypertension. She also utilizes point-of-care ultrasound.