When you are looking for a primary care physician, you may encounter some physicians who refer to themselves as internal medicine practitioners and others who practice family medicine. The difference between these two options comes down to whom they are allowed to treat. Those who practice family medicine also often practice women's health.
A Family Doctor Can Treat a Patient for a Lifetime
If you're looking for a physician for your entire family, a family medicine practitioner might be the most comfortable decision. A practitioner can watch your whole family grow up and will be aware of medical concerns that are particular to your family. However, even if you don't have a family, a family doctor can take care of all of your primary care needs.
Family medicine was developed as a result of concerns regarding the increasing specialization of doctors and a concern that specialization would hurt the relationship between the doctor and his or her patient. When a patient only sees a doctor for the treatment of a specific medical condition, this may lead to the patient only seeing the specialist for a limited period of time. When a doctor sees the same patient repeatedly, he or she may develop a more holistic understanding of the patient's health.
A family doctor might see a patient throughout most of his or her life. A family doctor can see a patient when he or she is an infant and continue caring for the patient all the way to the doctor's retirement. This makes it easier for the doctor to provide more quality care and you may also feel more comfortable with a doctor you've known for so long.
Internal Medicine and Family Medicine Offer Similar Care
Both family doctors and internal medicine practitioners focus on comprehensive care. While internal medicine comes out of a tradition of science-based medicine, both family medicine and internal medicine are science-based. The focus of family medicine is on preventative care, since it is less expensive and better for the patient to prevent a medical condition than to treat it.
Family medicine is ideal for those who share a household with family members, since the behavior of family members can impact your health. For example, your family may contribute to your stress or may have an impact on your ability to lose weight. When a family doctor notices similar problems with each member of a family, it's easier to find a resolution.