When people hear about Med-Peds, the first question is usually, “What are they?”

The answer is that Med-Peds (pronounced: MED-peeds) is short for Internal Medicine-Pediatrics. Med-Peds are highly skilled primary care physicians and clinicians who are essentially two providers in one – both an internal medicine and pediatric specialist.

Based on their training, they can treat a wide range of conditions in both children and adults, making them one of the most versatile providers out there. They’re especially well-suited to helping adults with conditions stemming from their childhood.

Now you may be wondering: Why haven’t I ever heard of them? Are they a new type of doctor? Why might I choose one as a primary care provider?

Read on to learn the answers to these questions and how Med-Peds compare to other types of primary care physicians.

Why you haven’t heard of Med-Peds

Med-Peds are not a new type of doctor. They’ve been around as long as family medicine doctors. In fact, you may have encountered a Med-Peds provider or clinician already.

These doctors don’t usually have the word “Med-Peds” stamped on their doctor profiles. But if you’ve seen primary care providers whose focus is both internal medicine and pediatrics, chances are, these are med-peds.

Another reason you might not have heard of Med-Peds? There aren’t that many of them. Among the doctors practicing in the United States, there are less than 6,000 Med-Peds. In comparison, there are about 120,000 family medicine doctors, 120,000 internal medicine doctors and 60,000 pediatricians.

Our HealthPartners hospitals and clinics are home to a few dozen Med-Peds who work with patients across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Med-Peds vs. other primary care doctors: similarities

All primary care doctors can be your “health home”

All primary care providers are trained to provide routine preventive care and treat a broad range of conditions within their specialties. You can count on them for annual checkups, flu shots, treatment for an acute illness or injury, and to help you manage chronic medical conditions.

All doctors follow the same general education and training path

After completing a bachelor’s degree, all doctors go on to four years of medical school and then a residency – which can last three to four years depending on their specialty. At the end of residency, doctors apply for a license to practice.

From there, many doctors choose to become board-certified. Board certification is a mark of distinction, implying that a doctor has gone above and beyond the minimum standard of education in their field.

Some doctors may also choose to complete subspecialty training, which prepares them to focus on certain types of patients or medical conditions such as diabetes.

Med-Peds vs. other primary care doctors: differences

Med-Peds double major in both internal medicine and pediatric medicine. So their specialties and focus areas overlap with every other type of primary care provider in some way. But there are some distinct differences.

Med-Peds vs. pediatricians

As you may know, pediatric medicine is all about infant, child and adolescent health care. That means both pediatricians and Med-Peds are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions that affect kids – from everyday illnesses to serious chronic conditions.

While Med-Peds split their residency between children’s and adult medicine, they receive similar training as pediatricians in areas such as neonatal care, adolescent medicine and behavioral development.

So unsurprisingly, a major difference between Med-Peds and pediatricians is their patients. Pediatricians spend 100% of their time caring for children from birth to 18 years old, while Med-Peds work with patients of all ages.

Of course, some health care needs don’t go away with age. For many Med-Peds, the choice to pursue both internal and pediatric medicine stems from their interest in transitional care and chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis that will need to be managed into adulthood.

Med-Peds vs. internal medicine doctors

Internal medicine focuses on providing care at every stage of adulthood. And while internal medicine providers and Med-Peds deliver everyday care, their training in both clinical and hospital settings also gives them significant knowledge about chronic diseases in adults. That means they can often diagnose and treat medical problems of greater complexity and severity.

But just as it is with pediatricians, the difference between internal medicine providers and Med-Peds are the patients they see. Internal medicine providers only treat adults, while Med-Peds also work with children. So, Med-Peds may care for patients throughout many stages of their lives.

Med-Peds vs. family medicine doctors

Family medicine is devoted to providing comprehensive health care for people of all ages. That means where Med-Peds differ most from other primary care providers, they match with family medicine providers. They could provide care for you and your entire family.

But while both Med-Peds and family doctors can diagnose and treat patients of all ages, the type of care they specialize in has some differences:

  • Condition complexity – Generally, both can provide preventive care, treat acute illnesses or injuries, and help manage a range of medical conditions. But family medicine doctors are more broadly trained with a focus on outpatient care, while Med-Peds receive more hospital-based training and spend more time in intensive care units.
  • Pregnancy care – As part of their broad training to provide comprehensive care, family doctors spend time in obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN). Their training covers women’s health care as a whole, with an emphasis on prenatal care and delivering babies. Med-Peds are not trained in pregnancy care or childbirth, rather they coordinate care with family doctors, OB-GYNs, midwifes and other specialists.

Why choose a Med-Peds provider as your primary care doctor?

The big benefit of Med-Peds is the combination of specialties they have, essentially rolling multiple primary care providers into one:

  • Like pediatricians, Med-Peds provide specialized care for children, including those with special needs.
  • Similar to internal medicine doctors, Med-Peds are experts at working with adults, even those with complex medical conditions.
  • Just like family doctors and clinicians, Med-Peds can provide care for the whole family.

At the most basic level, Med-Peds may be a fit if you’re looking for a single care provider for your whole family, and that dual-specialty certification is important to you.

But Med-Peds are especially worth looking into if one or more of your family members has a serious medical condition or special needs in childhood. This helps make sure everyone in the family gets the right primary care in one place – and that care continues as everyone gets older.

That means a child with a serious condition or special needs wouldn’t need to transition to a new doctor once they reach adulthood.

Ready to find a primary care doctor?

Whether you live in the Twin Cities, central Minnesota or western Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a primary care doctor near you who will be a perfect match for you and your family.