Choosing Between A Family Practitioner, An Internist And A General Practitioner

When it comes to choosing a primary care physician, you have the choice between a family practitioner, an internist, or a general practitioner. While these three types of doctors are all capable of making sure you receive the medical attention you require, they may go about it in different ways. Here is a bit of information to help you choose which doctor will be the person you turn to for your health needs and concerns.

The Internist

An internist works with adult patients. You and your spouse may use the same internist, but your children will need to go to a pediatrician, or family or general practitioner. In addition, many internist choose a sub-specialty. The sub-specialty may be body system related, such as cardiology or respiratory, or it may be disease related, such as oncology or metabolic disorder. If you have a known medical condition or disorder, you may want an internist with a sub-specialty as your primary care physician. He or she will not only treat the condition, but unlike a specialist, will provide general health advice at wellness checkups.

The General Practitioner

A general practitioner works with patients of all ages so your whole family can have the same primary care physician. You can go for wellness visit or immunizations, and this should be whom you see anytime you are ill in a non-emergency manner. They can diagnose and treat most common diseases and conditions; however, they do not specialize in any one area or have any sub-specialties. You will be referred to a specialist if your condition is beyond the scope of his or her practice. This will include the need for an OB/GYN or possibly a pediatric or geriatric specialist.

The Family Practitioner

The main difference between the family and general practitioner is that the family doctor takes a bit more education to be able to provide for a patient's care from before birth until death. The family practitioner is capable of caring for you throughout a pregnancy and delivery of the baby. While you may still be referred to a specialist, it will not be as readily or as often as if you had a general practitioner.

If you are lucky enough to have grown up seeing a family practitioner, there is no reason to seek a new primary care physician. He or she will have first-hand knowledge of your medical history and may even know your family history as well. If you choose a general practitioner, you may also need to find an OB/GYN or an internist with a sub-specialty in a condition you have. Contact a local practice, like Valley Medical Care, for more information.