Family and Friends Health Care

Family Medicine vs. Primary Care: Comparison Guide

A Nurse Takes a Patient's Blood Pressure

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

You've probably heard of "family medicine" and "primary care" in different contexts. These terms might be confusing ­– so how can you distinguish between family medicine vs. primary care?

This comprehensive care guide is the tool you need to navigate the differences between these types of long-term care. Establishing a relationship with a long-term care provider is extremely important for your health and well-being. Here's everything you need to know when comparing family medicine and primary care.

What is Family Medicine?

Family medicine is a specialized form of health care. Family practitioners focus on comprehensive health care for patients of all ages.

Family Medicine Specialties

Family medicine is very broad in scope, meaning a family medicine provider can address many diseases, acute problems and chronic health conditions. Providers specializing in family medicine are qualified to treat patients of any age, from newborns to seniors.

Training and Qualifications

All medical doctors must complete medical school. However, family practitioners spend years refining their training and knowledge after medical school.

The minimum residency for family medicine is three years. During their residencies, family medicine practitioners receive extensive training in a variety of practices, including the following:

  • Community medicine
  • Internal medicine
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Psychiatry
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery

These educational experiences provide more knowledge for family practitioners to carry into their family practices. After residency, family practitioners must become board-certified in family medicine.

Most family practitioners complete a fellowship after residency for more specialized training and hands-on experience in the field. Fellowships range from one to three years in length.

Patient-Centered Approach

Family medicine is all about continuity of care among patients — specifically families. If you've ever heard a person refer to their "family doctor," this is the type of professional they were talking about.

Many family practices offer comprehensive and holistic services. This means they cover almost all patients' health needs in one practice. From psychological care to therapeutic treatments, family medicine providers can cover various aspects of care.

Common Conditions Treated in Family Medicine

Family medicine is so broad that it encompasses almost all chronic and acute patient treatments. Family practitioners can do nearly anything from routine check-ups to chronic disease management. Family medicine providers can also treat anyone of any age, including babies, young children, adolescents, and seniors.

Some common ailments treated in family medicine include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Ear infections
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Minor injuries
  • Other chronic diseases
  • Strep throat

These long-term health conditions require an integrated treatment approach, which family medicine specialists aim to provide. Family medicine can also take care of your preventive treatments, health screenings, and routine procedures like colonoscopies.

What is Primary Care?

Primary care is your personal access point into the world of health care. Primary care practices can address almost all of your health needs, at least in part. Primary care aims to establish long-term relationships with adult patients and manage their health over time.

Primary care aims to address the diverse needs of all patient populations.

Primary Care Provider Specialties

There are many different types of primary care providers. Almost any long-term care specialist can be a primary care provider, from pediatricians and family providers to geriatrics practitioners. "Primary care" is an umbrella term encompassing a range of specialties. Your primary care provider may be a:

  • Family medicine practitioner
  • Internist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Pediatrician
  • Physician assistant

Centering Patients: The Whole-Person Approach

Primary care providers take a patient-centered approach to health care. They focus on the whole person, not just isolated symptoms or specific problems.

Primary care providers may refer their patients to specialists when necessary and coordinate other important aspects of patient care. For this reason, primary care is extremely important in disease prevention.

What Do Primary Care Providers Treat?

Primary care providers emphasize early intervention and preventive health care. They also manage chronic illnesses and diseases with effective treatments and monitoring. Primary care covers many ailments and health problems, especially those associated with lifestyle factors.

Key Similarities Between Family Medicine and Primary Care

Both family medicine and primary care providers focus on prevention, long-term health, and chronic condition management. Family medicine and primary care are both essential ways to maintain a long-term relationship between patients and providers.

Each one involves coordinating comprehensive health care treatment plans for patients. Both types of care also offer an access point into the health care system for diverse patient populations.

Choosing Between Family Medicine vs. Primary Care

There are a few factors to consider when choosing between family medicine vs. primary care. While the two sectors are similar and sometimes overlap, care can look different between them. You should always make an informed decision based on your needs.

Consider your personal preferences and comfort level. If you're not feeling satisfied with your provider's care, opting for another primary care provider is OK.

Ultimately, your decision is just that: your own. Consider the benefits of family-wide medical care and how it may impact your and your family's futures. Consider primary care's advantages when deciding between acute care offices (like urgent care) and an established primary care office.

Establish a Long-Term Health Care Relationship with Primary Care+

Your relationship with your health care provider matters. Having a long-term contact point within the health care system is extremely important. This provider will know your personal and medical history and any genetic risk factors you're up against. The right health care partner can connect you with the right specialists and get you the care you need.

If you want to establish a long-term partnership with a primary care provider, come to AdventHealth Primary Care+. With convenient hours and virtual visit options, you can find the care you're looking for whenever you need it. Schedule an introductory appointment today.

Recent Blogs

A Physician Goes Over a Patient's Chart with Him on a Tablet
What Is Disease Management?
A Provider Checks a Patient's Heart in an Exam Room
What Is Primary Care?
Why Is Medication Management Important?
A Primary Care Physician Speaks a Girl and Her Mother
How To Find a Primary Care Doctor
Nurturing the Whole Health of Mothers Every Day
View More Articles