Difference between Family Practice and Internal Medicine
By Theydiffer - July 16, 2015

There is a lot of confusion in distinguishing between family practice doctors and internal medicine doctors. If you intend to build a career in medicine, or are a patient looking for a doctor, it is necessary that you know the difference. This article will help you understand the differences between the two.


Family Practice (also family medicine) is a field of primary care whose doctors have completed a family medicine residency. They mostly take care of patients in a family practice environment – in which patients belong to all age groups.

Internal Medicine is practiced by a doctor trained in internal medicine residency and specialized in dealing with adult diseases, mostly in internal environments such as hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Comparison Chart

Family PracticeInternal Medicine
Treats patients of all agesMostly treats adult patients
Covers a wide range of medical servicesFocuses more on adult related medical services
Mostly outpatient in family practice environmentsMostly inpatient in hospital and doctor’s office environments

Family Practice vs Internal Medicine

What is the difference between family practice and internal medicine? The difference concerns the age of patients each treats, the environment of practice, the range of services they provide, and the specialization opportunities available to each field.

Both family practice and internal medicine offer primary care medicine with a lot of similarities and differences.

  • The main difference between these two categories is the age of the patients that they are trained to take care of.  Internal medicine providers only handle adult patients. Family practice providers, on the other hand, handle patients of all ages – children and adults – focusing on a wide range of medical needs.
  • Family medicine, as already mentioned, offers a wide range of medical services. This includes gynecology, pediatrics, obstetrics, and preventative care. Internal medicine, since it focuses on adult patients, is generally limited to adult diseases and chronic adult illnesses that include heart failure, diabetes, renal failure, and more.
  • Internal medicine tends to focus more on inpatient services such as those provided in hospitals and doctor’s office environments, whereas family medicine mostly involves outpatient services such as clinic services.
  • After training, most family medicine providers immediately start their practice. Specialization in family medicine is limited to fields such as geriatrics, adolescents, or sports medicine. Internal medicine providers mostly go on and specialize after training. They have a wider range of specialization fields that include oncology, cardiology, nephrology, and many more.