There’s an ongoing debate on whether primary care (PC) is the same as general practice (GP). We get where this confusion might be coming from, as both these names are often used interchangeably.
But while both primary care and general practice share numerous similarities, they aren’t 100% the same. The simple answer is that general practice is a part of primary care. But, as with everything else, the answer isn’t that straightforward.
What Is Primary Care?
Primary care is defined as the first point of contact between a patient and the healthcare system. Primary care services include diagnosis and treatment, promotion and prevention, and rehabilitation for common illnesses.
Such services can be provided by family doctors, internists, and general practitioners. These are all primary care physicians, which is why it’s important to know how to distinguish between them when scheduling an appointment. For instance, an internist is a primary care physician who specializes in treating adults, whereas a pediatrician focuses on treating children.
But where does a general practitioner (GP) land in all this?
What Is General Practice?
So, as established, general practice lands under the umbrella of primary care. But what does a general practitioner do?
Essentially, a general practitioner offers more general medical services to patients of all ages. They don’t focus on one area or group. Instead, a general practice operates more like a general health clinic where people with milder illnesses, such as a cold, can come for assessment and treatment. In other words, your general practitioner will be your first point of contact when experiencing any minor health problems.
Often, general practice clinics will have labs or diagnostics machines to perform more thorough medical testing, with the primary goal of treating their patients and keeping them out of hospitals.
That said, while general practice is primary care, not every primary care physician is a general practitioner.
What About Internists and Family Practice Specialists?
As covered, general practitioners are only one type of primary care specialists falling under the umbrella of primary care. Other common types of primary care practices are internal medicine and family care.
An internal medicine practitioner, also referred to as an internist, specializes in internal health, focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries and illnesses. Unlike general practitioners who treat both children and adults, internists provide their services only to adults aged 18+.
Family health practitioners, on the other hand, focus on providing basic medical care to your entire family. What’s more, in medicine, family care is a specialty field, with family medicine doctors receiving specialized training in diagnosing and treating various conditions affecting all family members. Therefore, like general practitioners, family medicine physicians don’t focus on one area of medicine. Instead, they offer a broader range of medical services, including asthma and allergies, weight management, women’s and men’s health, physicals, etc.
Indeed, many general practitioners choose to become family medicine physicians, although it doesn’t mean that every GP is a family physician.
How to Choose the Right Primary Care Provider?
Given how many primary care subcategories are there, it’s essential to know which one to pick. For example, as an adult, you can either decide to go to an internist or a general practitioner.
On the other hand, if you want to schedule an appointment for your children, you can choose between a family medicine practitioner or a pediatrician, who is a primary care provider specializing in treating children under 18. Pediatric specialists are also more skilled in working with children who can be pretty difficult patients.
There are also geriatricians, who specialize in treating seniors and age-related diseases, such as dementia or arthritis.
That said, it’s good to pick a primary care provider that offers the options that concern you and your loved ones.
Another thing to consider is whether a primary care provider has access to high-quality laboratory and testing equipment, enabling them to perform such services as blood testing, body-fat analysis, or EKG screening. An in-house pharmacy can also prove very beneficial.
These are the things to consider when choosing your primary care provider. And all these services (and more) are available at Chau Medical Group Clinic in Orlando.
Contact us to learn more about our primary care services and schedule an appointment.
Summing up our guide to primary care vs. general practice, it’s clear why many people use these two as synonymous terms. However, as covered, while general practice falls under the primary care category, not every primary care physician is a general practitioner.
Besides general practice, primary care also includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and geriatrics. What distinguishes general practice from these services is its more general approach. Essentially, while most of these practices specialize in treating a particular group of diseases, general practitioners offer more general medical services, providing them to people of all ages and not focusing on a specific range of illnesses.
While these differences might seem subtle to some, they are vital to understanding when looking for a reliable primary care provider. The best idea is to always look for a primary care clinic that offers medical services that apply to your or your loved one’s circumstances. And given our general approach here at Chau Medical, you can rest assured your primary care needs will be covered.
And if you don’t trust us, be sure to read the testimonials from our satisfied patients. They will tell you all you need to know about what Chau Medical is all about.