Difference between Family Medicine & Internal Medicine

Difference between Family Medicine & Internal Medicine

Family medicine in the Livonia is a comprehensive primary care specialty that focuses on providing holistic healthcare to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. Family medicine practitioners are trained to address various medical issues and are skilled in  preventive care, and acute illnesses. 

On the other hand, Internal Medicine specialists for seniors, often called geriatricians, have specialized training in the unique healthcare needs of older adults. They focus on managing complex medical conditions commonly seen in the elderly, such as multiple illnesses, cognitive impairment, and geriatric syndromes. 

So what’s the difference? And more significantly, which type of doctor is right for you? 

Family Medicine in the USA

Family medicine doctors care for people of all ages – from infants through older people. The care they deliver contains four branches of medicine:

  • pediatrics
  • adolescent medicine
  • adult medicine
  • Geriatrics

Family medicine doctors often care for the same patients throughout their lives, and in many cases, they care for multiple generations of family members simultaneously.

Who is eligible for family medicine treatment?

Here are some examples of individuals who are eligible for family medicine treatment:

  • Infants and Children
  • Adolescents and Teenagers
  • Adults
  • Women
  • Men
  • Seniors/ Elderly individuals
  • Families and caregivers
  • Mental health concerns
  • Preventive care

Who is eligible for Internal medicine treatment?

Here are some examples of individuals who are eligible for Internal medicine treatment:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Rheumatologic disorders
  • Hematologic disorders
  • Kidney diseases
  • Mental health
  • Behavioral health issues


Because internal medicine and family medicine doctors are primary care doctors, choosing between them may take work. They can diagnose and treat many conditions and will guide you in preventing disease and detecting health problems early while they’re still treatable. Eventually, there are advantages to choosing both types of physicians.

Patients are sometimes confused by the word FAMILY because they think it means they must have children to see that type of primary care doctor, but that’s not the case. 

Difference between Family Medicine doctor & Internal Medicine doctor

Family Medicine and Internal Medicine are two distinct medical specialties with some key differences:

  1. Scope of Practice

Family Medicine: Family Medicine physicians, also known as family doctors or general practitioners, are trained to provide comprehensive care to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. They are skilled in treating various medical conditions and are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking healthcare.

Internal Medicine: Internal Medicine doctors, also known as internists, primarily focus on adult medicine. They are trained to manage a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions that affect adults. They may also have sub-specialties like cardiology, gastroenterology, etc., allowing them to focus on specific organ systems or diseases.

  1. Age Group

Family Medicine: Family doctors care for patients of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.

Internal Medicine: Internists primarily care for adult patients. They do not generally treat children or infants.

  1. Training

  Family Medicine: Family Medicine physicians undergo a three-year residency program after completing medical school. This program covers various medical topics and emphasizes a holistic approach to patient care.

Internal Medicine: Internal Medicine doctors undergo a three-year residency program after medical school. This program focuses on adult medicine and includes inpatient and outpatient care.

  1. Sub-Specialization

Family Medicine: Family doctors receive training in various specialties but are optional to complete a fellowship in a specific area. They may practice general family medicine or pursue additional training in sports medicine, geriatrics, or women’s health.    

Internal Medicine: Internists can complete fellowships (1-3 years) in various subspecialties such as cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, etc. This allows them to focus on a specific area of internal medicine.

  1. Patient Relationship

 Family Medicine: Family doctors often establish long-term relationships with their patients, providing continuity of care across different stages of life.    

Internal Medicine: While internists build solid doctor-patient relationships, they focus primarily on adult patients.

  1. Common Conditions Treated

  Family Medicine: Family doctors are equipped to treat various conditions, including pediatric illnesses, women’s health issues, mental health concerns, and more.

Internal Medicine: Internists typically handle complex medical conditions in adults, including diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

  1. Hospital vs. Outpatient Care

Family Medicine: Family doctors can provide care in inpatient and outpatient settings, although many primarily work in outpatient clinics. 

Internal Medicine: Internists can work in inpatient and outpatient settings but often focus on hospital-based care, especially if they have a subspecialty.


Family medicine in the Livonia is pivotal in providing comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare to individuals and families nationwide with a focus on preventive care, continuity of treatment, and a deep understanding of the social determinants of health; family medicine practitioners serve as the cornerstone of primary care. 

With a deep understanding of the aging process and its impact on the body, internal medicine specialists for seniors stand as essential advocates for the well-being of our aging population, providing invaluable support and expertise in this critical stage of life.

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