Family Medicine provides continuing, comprehensive health care for the individual and family. Family medicine’s scope encompasses all ages and genders, each organ system, and every disease entity and integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences.
Family physicians in the United States may hold either an M.D. or a D.O. degree. Physicians who specialize in family medicine must successfully complete an accredited three-year family medicine residency in the United States in addition to their medical degree. They are then eligible to sit for a board certification examination, which is now required by most hospitals and health plans. The American Board of Family Medicine requires its Diplomates to maintain certification through an ongoing process of continuing medical education, medical knowledge review, patient care oversight through chart audits, practice-based learning through quality improvement projects and retaking the board certification examination every 7 to 10 years. The American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians requires its Diplomates to maintain certification and undergo the process of recertification every 8 years.
Family physicians deliver a range of acute, chronic and preventive medical care services. 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.
Internal Medicine involves the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists and are skilled in the management of patients with undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes.
Following completion of medical school, Internal Medicine practitioners are required to undertake a period of supervised practice before a medical license, is granted, typically one or two years. Then, doctors may finally follow specialty residency training in internal medicine, typically being selected to training programs through competition. In the United States, residency training for internal medicine lasts three years.
In the United States, three organizations are responsible for certification of Internal Medicine physicians, in terms of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are essential for excellent patient care: the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine and the Board of Certification in Internal Medicine.