What is Family Medicine?

What is Family Medicine?

Family medicine covers ongoing medical care for individuals and their families. It’s considered a medical specialty under primary care medicine, and is a term that covers a large scope of healthcare.

Family physicians typically recommend specialists for specific healthcare services, such as dermatologists, pulmonologists, and cardiologists.

What does a family doctor do?

Family doctors offer preventive healthcare, which includes suggesting healthy lifestyle changes. They may refer a patient to a specialist for an issue that requires further diagnosis.

Family Medicine vs. Internal Medicine

Family vs. Internal Medicine
  • Primary care physician (PCP) - Primary care physicians, also known as primary care providers, are usually the first doctors a patient will encounter when seeking medical attention. This term may be used to describe both a family medicine doctor and an internist. They are responsible for treating many varied healthcare needs within family medicine or healthcare. Family medicine doctors are primary care physicians that treat both children and adults, though some treat only adults.
  • Internal medicine - An internist, a doctor who practices internal medicine, is a primary care physician who typically treats only adult patients. Internal medicine doctors are specialized doctors who concentrate on preventing, diagnosing, and treating internal diseases.

Primary Care Services


Primary care physicians provide medical services for unexpected illnesses or injuries. These trusted doctors provide life-long treatment for some patients, managing acute or chronic conditions like high blood pressure or arthritis.

A family medicine physician is usually the first doctor a patient meets to address a medical concern; from there, the doctor can suggest what treatment options are available or which specialist handles the condition.

Your family medicine doctor offers extensive services for injuries, sudden sickness, or investigation of symptoms you might be worried about. Some of these services include:

Wellness & preventive care

Acute illness & Injuries

  • Order laboratory tests or perform blood and urine tests in their office
  • Prescribe medication
  • Treat ongoing conditions such as asthma, migraines, or urinary tract infections
  • Provide wound care
  • Check for broken bones to splint, cast, or brace; refer orthopedic specialists
  • Treat skin infections from bug bites or rashes
  • Offer treatment for muscle strains or sprains
  • Refer mental healthcare specialists

Care for chronic conditions

  • Liaise between the patient and specialist treating a specific condition
  • Manage chronic illness and prescribe medications for ongoing conditions
  • Create a healthy lifestyle strategy, including a diet and exercise plan
  • Perform routine lab tests to follow your medical and general health condition

When to See a Family Doctor

When to Seek Care

Some people think they should visit a doctor only when they are sick or injured. However, visiting your family physician at least once a year—even if you’re feeling well—is recommended to prevent illness or provide possible early detection of a condition that could become a more serious problem if ignored.

In addition, your family doctor can monitor ongoing medical issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic conditions.

Get Care

Receive Care from a Family Physician at NewYork-Presbyterian

NewYork-Presbyterian offers comprehensive medical care services conveniently located throughout the New York City metropolitan area, including Westchester and Hudson Valley.

Our medical groups offer same-day appointments for critical needs and easy scheduling with early, late, and weekend hours. Most insurance is accepted.

With patient portals and our physicians offering virtual appointments, access to top-quality medical care has never been easier. Put your mind at ease and make an appointment today with one of our exceptional physicians.