Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Family Practice versus Internal Medicine

Category: Clinical Rotations

The difference between FP and IM? I have a better understanding of the differences between the two now than I did before - hopefully my information is at least semi-correct. To tell the truth I sometimes still find the differences blurred and confusing. Actually trying to diligently look up the differences didn't lead me to many answers. Asking around yielded better results.

One of the reasons such confusion exists is that in smaller towns with smaller hospitals, there is barely a difference between the two. Our family practioners here do tons of hospital work, take medicine call, and are nearly identical to the internal medicine attendings. The only exception is that in the clinic, the family practice docs might see a few kids and/or a few women for Pap smears. That's about it.

I've been told that if one lives in a real city with a real hospital, more of a difference between the two does exist. Apparently you'll see more family practioners who have ambulatory only practices(meaning that don't fool with hospital patients).

In addition, IM doctors get paid more. If an FP doctor and an IM doctor did the exact same procedure in a clinic, IM doctors get paid more for that procedure. Family practice residencies include more rotations in Pediatrics and OB/Gyn, and generally have a broader knowledge base. Internal medicine people aren't so broad, but are much more detailed and academic in their training. Supposedly, family practitioners are better-suited to work ER shifts due to their additional training in Peds and OB/Gyn. With internal medicine, you have the chance to subspecialize in cardiology, endocrinology, GI, etc.

For awhile I was considering either family practice or internal medicine, and wasn't quite sure which would be the best choice. If I were going to practice in a small, rural area like the one I live in now, I would probably go with IM since FP docs do the same thing for less pay. If I were going to live in a bigger place, the option of doing clinic only might possibly be attractive, and the differences between the those roles might be more defined.


Blogger ShowLow said...

I have been seeing an IM for the last 14 years, he has been an awesome doctor for me(I live in Tucson Arizona), sadly because of personal issues he is ending his practice. He has a FP taking over his office. So my question would be should I stay with this office with the new FP, he has about the same amount of experience as the IM, or look for another IM? This really stinks since I've had such a good relationship with my doctor. He has always talked to me exactly about what he recommends we do as far as medications and has never just prescribed something just for the sake of it, like it seems some doctors do. I am diabetic and he has the philosophy that he would rather see slightly higher numbers(although of course not to high) than too low, which could lead to very low BS's. I agree with this way of thinking.

7:42 PM  
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11:31 AM  
Anonymous Jack Wilson said...

I have read that on some article that the difference between the two internal medicine vs. family practice is that Internal Medicine is that there primary goal is diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of specifically adults. While Family Practice basically primary care for anyone ranging from infants to the elderly. And also I heard that Internal Medicine earn a lot more than a Family Practice. There both 3 years residency but in a whole different level.

11:04 PM  

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