The Difference between an Internist and a Primary Care Physician

The Difference between an Internist and a Primary Care Physician

by Shearly (SU)
To understand the difference between an internist and a primary care physician, it is important to realize that one is a specialty, and the other is a role. An internist is a physician who specializes in internal medicine, and is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of adult diseases. While an internist can function as a primary care physician, he or she may also focus their practice on hospital medicine, medical education and/or research. On the other hand, a primary care physician may be an internist, a pediatrician, a geriatrician, a family practitioner, a gynecologist or an obstetrician, because primary care involves the practice of promoting overall health for the entire individual within the specific population (geriatrics, pediatrics, etc.) of the physician’s specialty. Let’s first look at the specialty of internal medicine, and then examine how these and other physicians practice in the primary care environment.