As patients, we often encounter the terms “internist” and “primary care physician” when seeking medical care. But what do these terms actually mean and are they interchangeable? Keep reading to learn about the key differences between an internist and a primary care physician to help you determine which is the most suitable choice for your healthcare needs.
An internist is a medical doctor who specializes in adult medicine. They focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect adults and are experts in complexity. Not only are they specially trained to solve diagnostic problems, they also work with patients with severe long-term illnesses and multiple, complex medical conditions.
Internists provide personalized care to suit a patients unique health needs and situation. Their in-depth knowledge and training of the human body and organ systems allows them to recognize a potential problem and find the best solution to maximize health. They routinely see patients with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary diseases.
Understanding Primary Care Physicians
A primary care physician (PCP) is a healthcare provider who acts as a patient’s first contact for any health concerns. Their role is to provide continuous and comprehensive care, including preventive services, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, and coordination of healthcare with other specialists.
A primary care physician can help you manage your health long-term. They will take the time to get to know you and your health over time, allowing them to spot potential red flags early, when treatment is typically easier and more effective. Your primary care physician can also refer you to a medical specialist if your condition requires more specialized treatment.
With a focus on preventative care, your PCP can recommend ways to improve your health, such as through lifestyle changes and guidance around healthy eating and exercise. They also provide services such as annual physicals, health screenings, and vaccinations to help detect potential issues and avoid certain diseases.
A primary care physician has a unique set of skills and extensive knowledge in various areas of health. They can be a family medicine doctor, internal medicine doctor (internist), or pediatrician, among others, and each is trained to see certain types of patients.
Is an Internista Primary Care Physician?
Although internists focus on the treatment of adult patients, they can indeed serve as primary care physicians. This is especially true for general internists, who are notlimited to one type of medical problem or organ system but arewell-equipped to provide comprehensive care to adults with a variety of health conditions. They are recognized as experts in diagnosing, treating, and managing acute illnesses and chronic diseases, and in health promotion and disease prevention.
Making the Right Choice
When determining whether you should seek care from an internist or a different type of primary care physician, consider the following factors:
- Age and medical history: Internists cater specifically to adult patients, while other types of primary care physicians can treat patients of other ages, depending on their specialty. If you’re an adult with a complex medical history, an internist may be better suited to address your needs.
- Family care: If you’re seeking one healthcare provider for your entire family, consider a family medicine doctor as your primary care physician. They can treat patients of all ages, from infants to seniors, and are trained to address a wide range of healthcare concerns.
- Location and availability: Make sure the doctor you choose offers convenient hours and is located near you. Choosing a doctor too far away or with limited business hours may prove difficult if you need to see them urgently, fit your appointment around other commitments, or don’t feel well enough to travel far.
- Insurance: Before making your final decision, check that the provider accepts your insurance. Many accept Medicare and most major insurance plans, but it’s always best to contact your insurance company or the doctor’s office to find out if they accept your plan.
Primary Care in Northern New Jersey
For high quality, comprehensive primary care, visit the compassionate, highly-skilled providers at Hudson MD Group. Our multispecialty medical practice is comprised of experienced and skilled doctors, including primary care physicians and specialists in cardiology, podiatry, and more.
With care centers conveniently located throughout northern New Jersey and a broad range of medical providers to choose from, Hudson MD Group is able to offer patients the very best medical attention and treatments, wherever they are.
To learn more about our comprehensive medical services or to arrange a consultation with a primary care provider, call us today at (973) 705-4914 or contact us at the location nearest to you. You can also send us a message using our online link.