What is the Difference Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine?

Choosing a primary care physician is an essential step in protecting your health and supporting your family’s medical needs. Not only do you want to find a provider who is qualified and experienced in the industry, but it’s also important to consider how convenient it is to visit the office.

What is a Primary Care Physician?

Having a trusted resource in the medical industry can be an effective way to monitor your overall health and access medical care when an unexpected injury or illness happens. A primary care physician can help identify a diagnosis and lead you through available treatment options when needed.

To put it simply: primary care is the initial step to care for all medical needs. Your primary care physician is a medical doctor who has credentials and training to diagnose, treat, and prevent a range of diseases and illnesses. They provide comprehensive care, including acute issues like the flu, colds, allergies, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and pain management.

It’s a lengthy process to become a primary care physician. This education starts with a four-year bachelor’s degree, followed by another four years for medical school. Next, each doctor must complete a medical residency, which can last between three and seven years, depending on the field of medicine they’d like to pursue.

To be a “board-certified” doctor, primary care providers must complete their residency at an approved medical facility. Additionally, they must base a rigorous test to measure their knowledge about the field of choice.

Primary Care Physicians: What Do They Do?

A primary care physician can practice medicine in various settings, such as private practices, group practices, medical clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. They offer a variety of services, including:

  • Wellness Screenings: Regular checkups and testing is often needed for a variety of health concerns, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, depression, and signs of domestic violence.
  • Immunizations: The administration of regularly scheduled immunizations for both children and adults.
  • Illness Care: When you are sick, lab tests can be used for diagnosis. Available tests include everything from blood work to stool samples, allergy testing, and more.
  • Disease Treatment: If you have been diagnosed with a specific condition, then your primary care physician can assist with treatment options, such as prescriptions, wound care, limb casting, and skin infection management.
  • Injury Care: If an accident or injury happens, digital imaging can be used to assess the damage. Preliminary tests must be done to check for broken bones and determine the extent of the injury.
  • Chronic Conditions: Patients who have long-term health conditions work with both primary care providers and specialists. Available support includes prescription management, diet and exercise programs, and monitoring health conditions through lab testing.

Keep in mind that there are times when a primary care physician must refer you out to another specialist. For example, if early signs of cancer are identified, then a patient is directed to a cancer expert for diagnosis and treatment.

What is the Difference Between a Primary Care Physician and a Family Doctor?

The term primary care physician is an umbrella category for various types of doctors who offer primary care – including family doctors. Here is a quick overview of the different kinds of primary care doctors and how they help patients:

  • Family Doctors: A physician with a specialty as a family doctor helps patients of all ages. Their training includes pediatrics, adult medicine, geriatrics, obstetrics, and musculoskeletal care. Family doctors are popular when a family is looking for one provider for both the children and adults in the household.
  • Internal Medicine: When a doctor specializes as an internist, it means they focus on adult internal medicine. Internal medicine providers can help patients with both acute and chronic health concerns. Their training can be in different medical fields, such as neurology, rheumatology, endocrinology, rehabilitation, orthopedics, and geriatrics.
  • Geriatricians: Doctors who specialize in healthcare for older adults are known as geriatricians. This advanced training includes experience in treating dementia, insomnia, balance problems, and other age-related diseases.
  • Pediatrics: Some doctors specialize in development, wellness, and treatments for children. A pediatrician provides services for babies, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers. Typically, the patient transitions to another primary care provider at the age of 21.

In addition to the primary care providers listed above, other medical specialists offer general care depending on your individual needs. For example, nurse practitioners and physician assistants work side-by-side with doctors. These medical professionals are becoming more and more important for primary care support and work under the supervision of a physician.

Consider These Things When Choosing a Primary Care Physician

Since your primary care physician is the person you will turn to when you need medical support, make sure that you select a provider you are comfortable with. You need to be able to trust the healthcare team and have access to talk to your doctor when an injury or illness occurs.

Here are a few things you should consider if you are looking for a new primary care physician:

  • Convenience: Finding a location close to home will save you a lot of time when you need to visit the doctor. Also, look for a provider who offers On-Demand telemedicine support, giving you the option to talk over video conferencing if you can’t visit in person.
  • Hours: One challenging aspect of visiting with a doctor is that it can be hard to fit the appointment into your work or school schedule. If weekday appointments are inconvenient, it can be helpful to select a provider who offers evening and weekend appointments.
  • Cost: Not only do you need to look at the cost of services, but also make sure that your primary care provider accepts your health insurance coverage. Sometimes you can save money by choosing in-network doctors through your health insurance plan.
  • Certification: Make sure that you choose a provider who is Board Certified. Additionally, find out about their industry experience. You are entrusting this provider with your health, which is why it’s essential that you choose a reputable doctor.

Primary Care Providers at Rapid Med Urgent Care

At Rapid Med Urgent Care, we are happy to offer primary care to support your healthcare needs. John G. Gomez, MD, is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine, and Rebecca Gomez, MD, is Board Certified in Family Medicine.

If you’d like to visit with one of these doctors, or you need information about available services, then you are welcome to contact our office at any time. We offer both in-office and telemedicine support to our patients. Sign in now and be seen quickly.

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