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Differences Between Family And Internal Medicine Providers

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Many people who select a primary care physician choose a doctor who specializes in internal medicine or family medicine. Although the two specialties may seem the same, they actually differ. 

Here are a few differences between internal and family medicine.


A family medicine doctor usually treats patients of all ages. Thus, they may regularly treat babies, young children, teens, and adults, often providing care for all of the members of a household. 

Internal medicine usually focuses on adults only. Consequently, an internist may only see patients who are at least 18 years old.

Types of Care

Both family medicine doctors and internal medicine physicians provide care that helps you maintain your health or restore it in case of an illness. In most instances, a family medicine provider tends to focus on preventive treatments, chronic disease management, and short-term medical concerns. The family physician may also perform minimally invasive procedures.

An internal medicine provider also provides preventive and chronic care. However, the treatments are often geared toward adults. As a result, conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart problems are often treated by an internist.


If you would like to have all of your family members treated by the same physician, you may benefit from selecting a family medicine doctor as your primary care physician. This option can be particularly beneficial for people who are concerned about the relationships within their family and would like to speak with a physician concerning their interactions. The family physician can help the family members navigate various seasons in their relationships that could place additional stress on their health, such as the arrival of a new baby.

If you would prefer, as an adult, to have a physician of your own who is trained to deal with multiple medical issues, even if the conditions are concurrent, an internist is a great choice. An internal medicine provider can diagnose and treat a wide range of adult illnesses.


A family medicine doctor must complete medical school, along with a three-year residency. During their residency, they focus on inpatient and community care. Therefore, they see people at practically every stage of life.

An internist must also finish medical school and a complete a three-year residency. However, during their residency, they serve as hospital physicians who provide inpatient and outpatient care, focusing largely on critical care.

As you make your primary care physician selection, consult with family physicians and internal medicine specialists in your local area, such as Harvey Harold E II MD PLLC.