What Kind of Doctor Do I Need?

Friday, January 12, 2018

So it’s time to find a doctor – someone you feel comfortable visiting every year to stay healthy. But maybe you’ve started your online search and realized it’s not as simple as Googling “find a doctor.” General practitioners, primary care physicians, internists, doctors of internal medicine – are they all different? All the same? Which kind is right for you?

Here’s a quick rundown.

Types of Primary Care Physician

“Primary care” is an umbrella term that refers to all types of what we might call “regular doctors” – the doctors you visit once or twice a year to monitor your overall health. 

  • For kids: Pediatricians are doctors specialized in children’s health. Pediatric clinics usually have waiting rooms and exam rooms that are more kid-friendly.

    How to choose a pediatrician.
  • For adults, especially seniors: Internists, or doctors of internal medicine offer primary care for adults, sometimes specializing in senior or geriatric care. Internists are also ideal for managing multiple chronic conditions – for instance, if you have both diabetes and high blood pressure.

    How to choose an internist.
  • For all ages: General practitioners and family doctors or doctors of family medicine see patients of all ages – great if you want the same doctor for your kids and yourself. General practitioners are more likely to refer you to other doctors for specialized care, whereas family doctors often pick up additional specialties in pediatrics, obstetrics and geriatrics so they can provide more of your care themselves.

    How to choose a general practitioner or family doctor.