Here’s How Family Medicine Jobs Are Different From Other Medical Fields

Family physicians have different responsibilities than other kinds of doctors. Click here to learn how family medicine jobs differ from other medical fields!

While most doctors get to see patterns as they occur in a region so that they can predict public health issues, only family doctors get to see the complete picture. Rather than having to react to a crisis, family medicine doctors can act in advance and help to stop problems in local health. Family medicine jobs are different than in other medical fields but they’re both vital and lucrative.

Here are four things to know about how family medicine differs from other fields

1. Understanding Internal Versus Family Medicine

If you’re looking to work in family medicine, you might think you have some idea of what that means. However, most of what we think about when we think about medicine comes from internal medicine.

Since the 19th century, the medical field has been heavily focused on the science of medicine and how science can help to treat diseases. However, most of this work was focused on treating adults and the diseases that they suffer with.

During this period, pediatrics began to develop as its own branch of medicine. It became clear that children needed not only different doses but also a different type of treatment than adult patients. As internal medicine grew, pediatrics also flourished into a unique field of care.

Starting in the 1960s, people started to take primary care more seriously. Along with it, family medicine emerged as a field that created a continuity of care from pregnancy to post-partum and from infancy through to adulthood.

The social unit of the family became a specialized and considered field of care that needed to be understood as a whole, rather than segmented by age or treatment.

2. Thinking About Demographics

When you’re talking about family medicine versus internal medicine, the types of patients that you treat is one of the biggest differences between the two areas. The demographics of your patients are going to be isolated to just adults when you’re dealing with internal medicine. When you choose to practice family medicine, you’ll be seeing every member of a family.

While pediatricians specialize in just the work done for children, family doctors need to know about both children and adults. If you run a private practice, you have to be ready to engage with your patients for several generations. If you work at a typical hospital, you might be thrown a curve ball from time to time, so it’s a little harder to prepare for what’s to come.

Internists who work in hospitals are usually moved from patient to patient and typically work with adults. Children need specialized care and attention. When you work with children, trust is an important part of engaging in proper care.

When you work in family medicine, you’re going to be more likely to be working as a primary care provider. This means you can build relationships with families and children so that they can trust you over time. The more time you spend with patients, the better your treatments will be.

3. Similar Duties

There are ways that the two types of medicine conflict and there are ways that their practices overlap.

Both types of practices are going to require you to diagnose what’s wrong with your patients and decide on a course of treatment. Internal and family medicine requires that doctors and patients trust one another so that the course of treatment is followed. When treatment isn’t possible within the confines or comfort level of the practitioner, the patients need to trust the recommendations and referrals of the doctor.

Family practices perform minor office procedures that internists perform as well. They’ll be able to drain abscesses or anything that requires immediate attention. They can remove foreign objects from the body, the skin, or the eyes, or even deal with cuts and lacerations.

If you fracture something or sprain something, you might be able to have a family doctor handle it.

Family doctors get comfortable performing minor gynecology, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy to help patients look for potential problems.

They can give routine injections and vaccinations that children need. For minor and common illnesses, they’ll be able to diagnose and prescribe care quickly and easily.

4. How Residencies and Training Work

When you’re learning to become a practicing family doctor, you’ll have a training and residency program that’s different from internists. After you’ve done your courses in medical school, you’re expected to complete a residency like any other doctor. However, instead of heading to a hospital, you’ll end up in an office, treating a smaller and more particular group of patients.

While the average internal medicine resident ends up caring for hospital patients for three years, learning emergency and critical care, you’ll only do one year of that. Inpatient training only occurs for that first year while the next two years are filled with pediatrics, OB/GYN training, and then working in outpatient treatment.

Residencies are going to vary based on a lot of factors that vary depending on your location. The scope of your training is going to be different if you train in a rural versus an urban setting. You’ll get a very particular set of issues to deal with if you end up landing in a smaller town.

Family Medicine Jobs Are Available Everywhere

If you’re interested in family medicine jobs, it’s not going to be hard to find one in your region or anywhere in the country. There are some great jobs working in communities that have unique healthcare needs. Every region is going to be different so make sure you know which issues are important before you sign up to work there.

It’s important to take care of yourself while you work hard practicing medicine, so check out our guide for tips on staying healthy.