When it comes to needing a certain physician, some things are pretty clear. Did you find out you were pregnant? You turn to an obstetrician. Were you recently diagnosed with an arrythmia? You request the assistance of a cardiologist.

Yet, when you are in need of general medicine, who do you turn to—a family physician or an internist? Our team at UAB Medical West wants to help you understand the difference between an internal medicine physician and family medicine physician to better know who to turn to when the medical need arises. 

The Truth Behind a Primary Care Physician

Not every medical issue calls for a specialist. Unless you have an underlying issue, you do not need a gastroenterologist for the stomach bug or an ear, nose, and throat physician for Strep throat. Rather, you can turn to a general practitioner for health care.

However, who is your primary care physician—an internal medicine or a family medicine physician? There is one main difference between the two different physicians, and it lies in the type of patient seen.

While both a family medicine physician and internal medicine physician fall into the category of “primary care physician,” internal medicine physicians only care for adults, while a family medicine doctor can see both children and adults. 

Internal Medicine vs. Family Medicine

Along with the different types of patients each primary care physician sees, there is also a different scope of health care services provided by each.

For instance, family medicine physicians are able to provide comprehensive care for the entire family. From acute to chronic medical issues, the goal of the family physician is to provide medical care that is preventive while also managing a variety of medical issues.

On the other hand, an internal medicine physician is able to provide a wider range of primary care, including but not limited to high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. In addition, internal medicine physicians are specialty trained to help with the diagnosis and treatment of complex medical cases, especially medical problems that are uncontrolled or there is more than one issue going on that makes it difficult for a diagnosis to be obtained. 

Whether you are in need of an internist or a family practitioner, the medical team at UAB Medical West in Bessemer, AL, is here to help. 

Call our physician referral line at 205-996-WEST to schedule an appointment with a UAB Medical West provider. We are here to serve the communities of Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance and more!