Family Medicine | Internal Medicine | Geriatric Medicine

Family Medicine

 
The specialty of family medicine was created in 1969 to fulfill the generalist function in medicine, which suffered with the growth of subspecialization after World War II. Since its creation, the specialty has delivered on its promise to reverse the decline of general medicine and provide personal, front-line medical care to people of all socioeconomic strata and in all regions of the United States.
 
Because of their extensive training, family physicians are the only specialists qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages– from newborns to seniors. Like other medical specialists, family physicians complete a three-year residency program after graduating from medical school.
 
As part of their residency, they participate in integrated inpatient and outpatient learning and receive training in six major medical areas: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine. They also receive instruction in many other areas including geriatrics, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, radiology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, and urology.
Family physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic, and preventive medical care services while providing patients with a patient-centered medical home.
 
In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, they also provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests, and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Family physicians also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other subspecialists. From heart disease, stroke and hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, and asthma, family physicians provide ongoing, personal care for the nation’s most serious health problems.
 

Internal Medicine

 
Basic training in internal medicine is a three-year (frequently termed “categorical”) residency training program. Following completion, individuals are prepared for board certification in internal medicine and prepared to practice general internal medicine.
 
General internal medicine training equips individuals to handle the broad spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and general internists are recognized as experts in diagnosis, treatment of chronic illness, and comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention. Due to the broad yet intensive nature of core internal medicine training, general internists are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system; this is also the reason that basic internal medicine training is required as the foundation to prepare those who desire to pursue additional subspecialty training in internal medicine.
 
Clinical career options for general internists are extremely broad and flexible. Two of the most recognizable types of practice pursued by general internists are primary care general internal medicine in which the internist follows a panel of patients longitudinally over time and provides preventive, acute, and chronic care, most often in the ambulatory setting, and hospital medicine (“hospitalist”) in which clinical work is focused on caring for patients requiring hospital-level care.
 

Geriatric Medicine

 
Geriatric medicine is a type of practice within internal medicine that focuses on the care of older patients. Those who practice geriatric medicine (“geriatricians”) are specifically trained in the normal and abnormal physiologic and psychosocial changes associated with aging, and to recognize the differences in presentation of disease relative to normal aging. Geriatricians also recognize the importance of maintaining functional independence in older patients and focus on providing preventive interventions.
 
Most geriatricians are primary care physicians who desire additional training and skills focused on an older patient population. The clinical settings in which geriatric medicine is practiced are quite varied. Many geriatricians continue in primary care practice, and geriatrics training uniquely equips clinicians for work in rehabilitation, extended care, and home health settings. Geriatricians may also provide consultative services to other physicians or health care institutions.
 
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