Ben Ryan, MD Shares What You Need to Know about Family Medicine
If you’ve ever been confused about choosing the right primary care doctor for you and your family, you aren’t alone. A primary care physician is more than just a doctor. He or she learns your personality, lifestyle, the nuances of your medical history, and your treatment preferences.
Your doctor will be a partner in your health and your first point of contact for preventative care and when you’re sick or need a specialist referral. The great part is that you get to choose the primary care doctor that works best for you.
We talked with Ben Ryan, MD, a family medicine provider at South Shore Health. We asked him to weigh in on a few common questions people often have about primary care medicine.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job as a family medicine provider?
I love the fact that the cornerstone of family medicine is having an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. It is wonderful building relationships with patients and even multiple generations of a family—which often helps me see the entire family picture from a holistic standpoint, both physically and emotionally. Because family medicine physicians take care of patients of all ages, I I deal with a wide range of medical issues, which means my job is always interesting and dynamic.
What is the difference between family medicine and internal medicine?
Both primary care settings have similar skill sets in the care of adult patients. The main difference is that family medicine providers care for both adults and children, while internal medicine focuses solely on the healthcare needs of adults. Our training is also slightly different, as more of my training is focused on office-based medicine as opposed to hospital-based care. Family medicine providers often perform more procedures as well. These include joint injections, skin biopsies, and women’s health procedures. This is another part of family medicine I enjoy as it allows us to manage a wide variety of health problems.
What factors should weigh in to one’s decision when choosing a primary care doctor?
Your primary care doctor is going to be an important advocate for your health. It’s critical that you trust him or her and feel comfortable asking questions and discussing sensitive health topics.
Life is so busy that convenience may also play a role when choosing your doctor. A family medicine doctor could be the best fit if you have a family, because starting your children with a family medicine practitioner ensures they won’t have to seek out a new doctor when they’ve outgrown the pediatric setting.
Will my child get the same care from a family medicine doctor that a pediatrician would provide?
Deciding who to entrust with the health care of your child is an important decision as a parent. In some parts of the country, it is extremely common for families to bring their children to a family physician, but in this region many people haven’t been introduced to the concept of a family doctor. Pediatricians and family medicine physicians undergo the same medical school training. During their three-year residencies, pediatricians are trained to care for patients from birth until approximately age 22.
Because a pediatrician strictly deals with children, sooner or later your child will have to transition from a pediatrician to an internal medicine or family medicine doctor. If you choose a family medicine provider for your child’s care, he or she can provide care throughout all phases of life. This is my favorite aspect of family medicine. Similarly to pediatricians, if pediatric specialty care is needed, your family medicine provider can coordinate the care and make the necessary referrals to pediatric specialists.