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Internal Medicine versus General Practice

Updated on March 27, 2011

How is a doctor who practices internal medicine different from a general practicing physician?

To keep it simple, a general practitioner is like the small town doctor who delivers babies, sees children, gives adult check-ups and cares for the dying. They rarely work out of a hospital, but mostly from offices and clinics.

By and large, a General Internist specializes in attending to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases, and not those of children. They go through a 3 year residency in Internal Medicine. They can give primary care similar to the family practice doctor except only in adults or they can be in a more acute care setting in hospitals like in the ICU. After their residency, an internal medicine physician can then specialize into various fields like Gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, diabetes, HTN, and such. But make no mistake, internal medicine physicians can act as primary care providers.

An excellent example of both an Internal- and Family Medicine practice is Piedmont Internal Medicine and Family Practice at York in York, SC ( They act as family care physicians as well as internists, looking after the entire being of adults and their health. They provide ongoing after-care to help one understand one’s condition, treatment, follow-up care and medications. They also specialize in everything from treatment for illnesses and minor injuries, to care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, to services like on-site labs and x-ray’s, as well as immunization.

To learn more about what an internist does, visit and/or the American Board of Internal Medicine at


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