Confused by the terms “primary care physician (PCP),” “general practitioner,” and “internist?” That’s because people often use these titles interchangeably. However, you should know the difference between these doctors if you are looking for a new primary care doctor.
An internist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in internal medicine, which is focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a board range of general injuries and diseases affecting adults. A general practitioner is also considered a primary care physician, but unlike an internist, a general practitioner is trained to provide care for patients of all ages – not just adults – which is why they are often referred to as family doctors.
There are also other details that differentiate the primary care services provided by a family medicine doctor and an internist.
The Differences Between a PCP and an Internist
The primary differences between family medicine doctors and internists are related to their specific responsibilities and location. Whereas most family medicine doctors work in an outpatient setting, internists tend to work in hospitals.
Both types of doctors conduct minor office procedures and execute diagnostic techniques, but family physicians tend to focus on preventive medicine and well-patient services in their outpatient setting, while internists perform a wider range of diagnostic and treatment procedures of greater complexity in both clinics and inpatient settings.
Family physicians and internists also differ in the type of postgraduate training they receive. After completing medical school, physicians in both fields begin their residency. However, while internal medicine residents are required to care for hospitalized patients for three years and receive training in emergency medicine, critical care, and medical sub-specialty care, family practice residents typically receive about one year of the same inpatient training, then split the remaining two years of training among other outpatient medical disciplines, such as pediatrics, orthopedics, or obstetrics and gynecology. Likewise, internists can choose a subspecialty of internal medicine, for example, cardiology, pulmonology, rheumatology, or gastroenterology.
There are also comparative differences between the skill sets of family doctors and internists. While internists develop a comprehensive understanding of common adult health conditions, family physicians are trained to diagnose a wide range of medical issues for patients of all ages. Family doctors tend to perform more outpatient procedures and have more training in women’s health and pediatrics.
Despite these differences, your PCP can be a family practitioner, an internist, or another type of doctor – or, in the case of your child’s primary care physician – a pediatrician. The choice is up to you.
Primary Care Physician Near Me in North Bethesda, Maryland
When choosing a primary care physician, why settle for a traditional practice that involves long waits for appointments, minimal time with your doctor, and insurance paperwork when you can receive a higher level of personalized concierge medical services?
- Around-the-clock access to comprehensive primary medical care
- An unlimited number of quality-time office or virtual telehealth visits
- Convenient same-day or next-day appointments
- Acute illness visits
- Chronic care follow-ups
To find out more about our membership-based practice and patient-centered primary care, call our office today at (301) 941-4414 to request a complimentary meeting with Dr. Possner in person or via a virtual telehealth visit. Let us show you how your health and wellbeing can benefit from our exceptional direct primary care.