Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

Go With An Internist For Your Primary Care Physician

by Caitlin Obara

While many people go with a general practitioner for their primary care physician, as an adult, you should at least consider going with an internist. Note that an internist is not the same thing as an intern. While a intern or resident physician is someone who is studying to be a doctor, an internist is a doctor of internal medicine. So what makes an internist a better option than a general practitioner?

Focus of Training

Most doctors will focus on different areas of medicine. This is not the case with a general practitioner. Instead, a general practitioner receives training on how to deal with working with everyone from a newborn baby to a ninety-year-old. Thus, if you have children, you and your whole family can go to the same doctor. Thus, if you are sick and going to the doctor alone, you could be sitting there with a bunch of other parents and their children. By way of contrast, a doctor of internal medicine will work with older adolescents and adults of any age. Thus, while a general practitioner may be familiar with various illnesses and ailments, they often work with children and thus have more experience with the kinds of maladies that befall children. An internist is more likely to have experience treating the kinds of ailments that are common to adults. 

Secondary Care

General practitioners will typically work out of their own office, which means you don't have to go to a hospital to receive care. This may mean that you have a shorter drive and closer parking than you would if going to the hospital. Internists often work with a team of doctors at a hospital and help to provide diagnoses. Thus, if you have a condition that is likely to need specialized care from a secondary physician, an internist is more likely to be familiar with secondary care physicians, and thus can give a good recommendation. As you age and need care with arthritis, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, and/or other conditions, this can be a real advantage. 

Whether you or single or have a family, there are good reasons to choose an internist instead of a general practitioner for your primary care physician. In fact, if you have a family, the main reason to go with a general practitioner is simply convenience. On the other hand, quality of care should trump convenience. By virtue of the training they receive, the experience with working with adult patients, and being part of a hospital team, an internist can provide better care for adults than a general practitioner.