When choosing a primary care physician or PCP, people would have to make their selection between an internal medicine physician or a family medicine doctor. Not many people are adequately aware of the differences between these domains of medical science. Dr. Thomas Maibenco, however, underlines that there are many fundamental differences in the training, patient care activities, and focus of these two specialties. Thomas Maibenco is a renowned clinical director and family physician. He has many years of experience in the sphere of family medicine and emergency care
Historically speaking, family medicine and internal medicine have developed from quite diverse backgrounds. The popularity of internal medicine essentially surged up in the 1800s with the growing application of scientific knowledge into the domain of medicine. This distinct scientific approach towards the practice of medicine was eventually applied progressively to a number of ailments that affected adults. Dr Thomas Maibenco highlights that with the eventual development and growth of pediatrics as a distinguished field of medical science, internal medicine continued to be focused on the health of adult patients.
The specialty of family medicine, however, came into being sometime in the late 1960s. The development of this specialty was largely due to the fact that the increasing level of specialization in medical science was seen as a threat to the doctor-patient relationship, as well as the aspect of continuity of care. Dr. Thomas Maibenco mentions that family medicine is largely developed around a social unit (the family), and not any particular patient population (women, men, children or adults), nature of treatment or intervention (prescription drugs or surgery), or organ system (such as otolaryngology or urology). As a result, family physicians are known to be trained to deal with a wide spectrum of medical concerns, which might be faced by any of the members of a family unit. While family doctors are able to diagnose mental illnesses, they typically refer people to specialized physiatrists for their proper treatment. Some family doctors are however trained in some talk therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy.
Dr. Thomas Maibenco underlines the fact that family medicine education is much broader in nature in comparison to internal medicine. In addition to receiving the required hospital training, family physicians put a high level of focus on outpatient care. Many of them are also specially trained in pediatrics. The doctors specializing in internal medicine on the other hand focus on the various medical conditions that are common to adults. Many of them even receive sub-specialty training in diverse spheres of medical science, such as geriatrics, dermatology, neurology or sleep medicine.
Both internal and family physicians tend to put their focus on the overall health of their patients. The doctors belonging to both groups essentially strive to ensure disease prevention and promote wellness. However, in most cases, choosing a family doctor as the primary care physician would be a prudent move as they provide both adults and children with continuity of care.