Choosing Between a Family Medicine Doctor and an Internal Medicine Doctor

Your health should be your priority. While our daily lives put us at risk of developing various environmental diseases, having internists can increase our chances to fight them. Whether you schedule a visit to an internal medicine doctor in Michigan or a family practitioner, the goal is to stay healthy. However, some people might find it confusing to differentiate between internal medicine and family medicine. Here, we’ll help you pick the right one.


Internal medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and management of diseases in patients above 18 years of age. Physicians who practice internal medicine are known as internists and care for individuals from their young adulthood throughout their life.

The scope of internal medicine is offering primary healthcare that maintains good health and prevents diseases. It includes the assessment of general health status and treating a range of acute and chronic diseases. The field is mainly concerned with patients at risk for developing various diseases due to their lifestyle or past medical history.

Physicians who wish to pursue internal medicine study it as their medical specialization. Their three-year residency program is followed by thorough clinical practice to polish their skills. However, some internists also choose fellowship training in specific organ systems such as pulmonology, sleep medicine, or emergency medicine. Such specialist internists are more capable of treating diseases that are specific to their chosen organ and organ system. Internal medicine physicians practice in both inpatient and outpatient settings. They also care for critically ill hospitalized patients which improve their resilience and decision-making skills.  Due to their extensive and vigilant training, internists are much more capable of treating diseases in adults, regardless of their prognosis or complexity.

Internists offer care that is not limited to a gender or organ system. People book an appointment to see their internists for common diseases such as cold, cough, flu, or chronic ailments. They deliver pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical care to treat acute and complex long-term conditions. An internist, being the bridge between a patient and a specialist, may care for their patient throughout their lifetime – referring to the latter wherever necessary.


As the title suggests, family medicine is concerned with providing care for patients of all ages. Be it a newborn baby, a child, a middle-aged person, or an elderly – the scope of family medicine includes them all. While internal medicine had a particular age demographic, family medicine is not limited to either age, gender, or organ system.

Physicians who study family medicine are known as family medicine practitioners. Their educational and practical training allows the treatment and management of all kinds of diseases in all patient demographics. The scope of the medical specialty is similar to internal medicine, if not as broad as it. While internists have more profound expertise and can treat complex conditions with or without a specialist, family medicine deals with less-complicated issues. It is primarily focused on general health and well-being and on promoting preventive measures.

Similarly, the services of a family medicine physician are more and less similar to that of an internist. While they care for patients of all ages, they do not deliver care as comprehensive as an internist. Nonetheless, family medicine practitioners are well-versed in treating common acute and chronic conditions.


The difference between internal and family medicine is multifold. The two specialties differ by patient demographics, approach, and other factors that are discussed below:

>Patient Demographics:

Family medicine is proficient in dealing with patients of all age groups i.e. an entire family unit. However, internists are more focused on patients above 18 years of age and provide comprehensive care to them.

>Treatment Approach:

For Internal medicine physicians, the expertise lies in the diagnosis of an array of diseases that are common in adults. However, a family medicine practitioner offers whole-person care that is rather focused on sustainable care, health maintenance, and disease prevention.

>Postgraduate training:

Both internists and family physicians take up three-year residency programs in internal medicine and family medicine respectively. They may choose to additionally specialize in fields such as cardiology, oncology, and neurology to improve their scope of treatment.

For family practitioners, the residency includes training in pediatric medicine, OB/GYN, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. This enables physicians to look after patients of different age groups and different physiological wellbeing.

>Practice Approach:

Internists are more experienced to treat complicated diseases and disorders. Their proficiency lies in treating adult-based diseases to a greater extent, regardless of their stage. On the other hand, family medicine is more inclined towards preventive medicine. While they offer treatment for various common diseases, they may need to collaborate with specialists for a comprehensive strategy.

>Practice Setting:

Internists work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including critically ill hospitalized patients. Family medicine practitioners are more often found in outpatient medical facilities.


Regardless of their differences, both internal medicine and family medicine are similar in terms of their services. Internists and family practitioners can perform minor procedures like draining the abscess and removing foreign particles, and fractures They also conduct diagnostic procedures such as proctoscopy, colonoscopy, and skin biopsy.


If you wish to have one physician that looks after you for your lifetime, you should see an internist. They are capable of treating all adult-related diseases and are much more aware of physiology in this age group. For those looking for one physician for both pulmonary and sleep issues, book an appointment at a lung and sleep clinic in Michigan. However, to have one single practitioner for all your family members, there’s nothing better than a family practitioner.

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