What is the Difference Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine

Family Medicine Vs. Internal Medicine

Family medicine and internal medicine are medical specialties. These are two separate specialties, but most people can get confused. Both specialties train physicians to diagnose, treat, and prevent different health disorders and medical ailments.

However, there are distinct differences between internal medicine and family medicine. Getting the right health treatment is very important. So, you should know the difference between internal medicine and family medicine.

Family medicine and internal medicine practitioners are both primary care physicians. Still, they have two different roles in medical care.

In simple words, family medicine practitioners provide outpatient care, while internal medicine physicians offer inpatient care.

Let’s look at the difference between family medicine and internal medicine.

Family Medicine and Internal Medicine

Difference between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine

What is Family Medicine

Family medicine specialty involves providing constant and complete healthcare services for patients of all ages and genders. Family medical practitioners are also called primary care physicians. They are trained to treat and prevent various chronic and acute health conditions and provide general health education to patients.

These primary care physicians are certified to diagnose, treat, and prevent a large range of disorders and diseases that affect the organs.

Family medical practitioners are trained to identify the physical, emotional, and social factors that affect a patient’s health. They are often the first point of contact for healthcare for patients as they can manage minor and major medical problems. Family physicians work at outpatient clinics as well as hospitals.

What Does Family Medicine Treat

These are some of the most common health and medical disorders that family medicine practitioners can diagnose and treat:

  • Metabolic and endocrine – Thyroid, diabetes, etc.
  • Gastrointestinal – Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Musculoskeletal – Arthritis, chronic back pain, etc.
  • Mental health – Depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Respiratory – Pneumonia, bronchitis, etc.
  • Cardiovascular – Coronary artery disease, hypertension, etc.

Family medicine, as the name suggests, focuses on the entire family’s well-being, from infants to adolescents, adults, and seniors. They are primary care providers and often have a strong bond with families. This strong understanding of the family’s medical history is helpful for family care physicians to provide personalized healthcare to every individual patient.

Family care practitioners also refer patients to specialists, if needed, and coordinate with the healthcare team. This helps medical specialists to provide effective treatment for complex medical problems.

Family physicians also provide preventive healthcare, including lifestyle counseling, regular health checkups, and vaccinations. These preventive measures are focused on helping families lead a healthy and happy life.

What is Internal Medicine

Internal medicine, as a medical specialty, is focused on treating adults. It is also called general medicine, and the practitioners are called Internists. Internal medicine practitioners are also trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent several health and medical issues affecting a person’s organs.

Internal medicine practitioners are also responsible for coordinating with other medical specialists and helping to manage a patient’s complex medical problem. They are trained to diagnose common and rare diseases and usually work at hospitals as primary contacts for patients’ medical care. You can also find Internists working in clinics.

What Does Internal Medicine Treat

Internal medicine is mainly focused on identifying and treating disorders of the organ systems in adults, such as:

  • Infectious – Urinary tract infection (UTI), pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Oncological – Colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.
  • Neurological – Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
  • Chronic – Chronic kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
  • Hematological – Clotting disorder, anemia, etc.
  • Autoimmune and inflammatory – Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Though internal medicine practitioners mostly treat adults, some specialize in treating adolescents, too. However, internists do not usually provide medical care to infants, children, and pregnant women. Their scope of care may include specialized training in relevant medical sub-specialties, such as geriatric medicine for senior health care.

How Do You Choose Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Care

Now that you know the difference between family and internal medicine, let’s understand how to choose. First, determine the kind of medical or health care you need.

If you want to meet with a medical practitioner who can become your family physician, you should go to a family medicine practitioner. Family medicine takes care of many health and medical problems that affect family members, from infants to the elderly.

These practitioners form long-term relationships with families and know the best way to treat every individual member. However, if you are an adult suffering from a health or medical problem requiring specialist care, you should contact an internal medicine practitioner.

An internist is trained to identify, treat, and prevent many health issues that affect a person’s organs and other body systems. They are also trained to collaborate with other medical specialists to provide comprehensive medical care to adults with chronic and acute illnesses.


The difference between family and internal medicine is that the former focuses on treating common ailments affecting infants, children, and adults. In contrast, internal medicine treats organ disorders in adults. By understanding this distinct difference between family and internal medicine, you can choose the right physician depending on the medical care you need.

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