The connection between primary care and internal medicine is that doctors who specialize in internal medicine, also known as internists, often serve as primary care physicians. This means that a doctor of internal medicine may be the main point of contact between a patient and the health care system. Typically, a provider of primary care is responsible for working with patients to prevent, diagnose, and manage various health conditions. Internists, due to their training in various body systems, are typically well prepared to provide primary care services for adult patients, although some choose to practice sub-specialties that are not related to primary care medicine. It should also be noted that primary care and internal medicine are not always connected, as there are other types of health care providers who provide primary care services.
An internist is a medical doctor who completes a residency in internal medicine, a medical specialty that focuses on the care of adult patients, although in some cases an internist may choose to receive additional training in the sub-specialization of adolescent medicine. These doctors develop a knowledge of various biological systems as well as strong diagnostic skills. Internists may also be particularly proficient in educating patients about their health and developing strategies for preventing disease. Many people may choose to work with their internist throughout their lives.
In many jurisdictions, routine medical care, including physical examinations, diagnostic testing, and office visits for simple injuries and the treatment of symptoms of illness, is considered to be primary care and may be provided by several different types of health care professionals. These health care professionals include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians. Other types of physicians who may provide primary care include general practice physicians, family practice physicians, and, for children, pediatricians. Internists who don't choose a sub-specialty, such as cardiology, may choose to integrate primary care and internal medicine in their practice.
A primary care physician or provider will typically assume responsibility for providing routine care for patients, including common diagnostic tests such as blood pressure screening, cholesterol screening, and in some cases gynecological screenings. If the provider detects disease, he may begin treatment on his own in accordance with his training. When it is obvious that the patient needs more specialized care, the internist will refer the patient to a specialist or a surgeon for further treatment. During this specialized treatment, the internist may serve in a consulting role to the other doctors and may continue to provide primary care and internal medicine services to the patient while he or she is treated for the disease or condition.