Internal Medicine vs. Family Practice


7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 12, 2002
    Can anybody tell me if there is a clear cut line between Internal Medicine and Family Practice? Is the only difference that family practice allows the use of surgical methods, or is that even included in both specialties? If anybody can tell me the differences I'd really appreciate it. Thanks in advance.


    Grand Member
    7+ Year Member
    15+ Year Member
    Jul 13, 2001
    anchorage, ak
      Internal medicine is a little more specialized. Basically you're treating adults who don't need surgical treatment. Following diabetics and people with heart disease, high BP, etc. Family practice is just that, you're treating the whole family -- from OB, to peds to adolescents to adults who don't need specialized monitoring -- people who are basically healthy (or until they're not). I know that my F.P. doc does do surgery regularly (although I don't think that's true of all F.P. docs) , and the internist that I shadowed never did.


      Student o' Life (SoL)
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      Aug 16, 2002
      Lost out east, near the sea
      1. Medical Student
        I think that there is a philosophical difference between the two.

        FP are operating on more of a personal background frame of reference. There a a couple of seminal papers on the formation of the fp specialty that are very interesting. There is a strong focus on the "art" of treating a member of the community. See papers by Whinney, Geyman, etc. circa 1969.

        IM is also adult oriented you'd have to do an IM/Peds primary care residency to cover similar territory.

        Either can be generalists though, so similar in that vein.
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        Bikini Princess

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        May 27, 2002
          I think internal medicine (usually just called medicine) is the comphrensive, scientific study of human disease. There are two main types of graduate study in internal medicine: general im, which is designed for people wishing to pursue primary care, and categorical, which is designed to serve as a foundation for further subspecialization (ie oncology, hematology, gastro, cardio, etc).

          Family practice is designed to prepare a physician for only primary care, usually private practice. I think it emphasizes personal relationships, patient satisfaction, etc. I don't know that it is the most competitive field of medicine.

          OB/GYN and pediatrics are also primary care fields. It is important to note that the number of general IM slots and family practice slots left empty after match-day has been steadily increasing in the past decades. There are many reasons for this...
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