Internal Medicine doctor, or Internist is a term that is frequently heard, but often misunderstood. An internal medicine doctor, specializes in adult patients care, specifically focused on preventative care as well as non-surgical diagnosis, treatment and education of multi-system diseases of the internal organs. Kay A. Ficht, M.D. who is an internist at Your Choice Medical in Newburyport, MA states some examples of multi-system diseases are diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and high blood pressure. Finding a trusted internist can be extremely important for adult patients who have existing health issues as well as patients who are having new health issues and need a diagnosis. According to the American College of Physicians “Historically, internal medicine and family medicine developed from very different backgrounds. Internal medicine grew out of the increasing application of scientific knowledge into the practice of medicine starting in the late 1800s. This “scientific” approach to medicine was unique at the time and was progressively applied to the wide spectrum of diseases that commonly affect adults. With the growth and development of pediatrics as a separate specialty devoted to the care of children in the early 1900s, internal medicine continued its primary focus on adult patients.
General practitioners, also known as family doctors, differ from internal medicine doctors because they treat infants to adults, focusing on preventative care, chronic illnesses and patient education. This is a broader scope of treatment due to the vast age differences between patients. A general practitioner can see someone from birth to death, which can enable a long lasting and trusted relationship.
Most people are familiar with the term primary care provider because most insurance plans require members to choose a primary care provider, or PCP to be listed as their doctor. Both internist and general practitioners fall under the category of primary care provider. Internal medicine doctors and general practitioners are the first line of defense in treating your health and before you may or may not need to see a specialist. So whether you prefer to choose an Internist or a general practitioner as your PCP, it is important to find the right doctor who you can establish a trusting relationship with and who can treat, educate and communicate with you about your health care needs.