Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. These physicians practice “general internal medicine” and are commonly referred to as “general internists.” General internists are equipped to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and are recognized as experts in diagnosis, in treatment of chronic illness, and in health promotion and disease prevention—they are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system. General internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings—no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time. Their training uniquely qualifies them to practice primary care and follow patients over the duration of their adult lives and establish long and rewarding personal relationships with their patients.
The specialty of family medicine is centered on lasting, caring relationships with patients and their families. Family physicians integrate the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences to provide continuing and comprehensive health care. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages, sexes, each organ system and every disease entity. Family medicine is a three-dimensional specialty, incorporating (1) knowledge, (2) skill and (3) process. At the center of the process element is the patient-physician relationship with the patient viewed in the context of the family. It is the extent to which this relationship is valued, developed, nurtured and maintained that distinguishes family medicine from all other specialties.