Primary Care Training

UCSF School of Medicine

PCLA has worked to improve the primary care curriculum and opportunities within primary care at UCSF. Please visit Get Involved to find out more.



Medical students interested in pursuing a career in primary care can apply to residency programs in any of the following:



Residency Length

Possibility for sub-specialization?

Family Medicine Adults, Children, Pregnant Women 3 years No (but fellowships available in OB, adolescent medicine, geriatrics, sports medicine, etc.)
Internal Medicine (Categorical, Primary Care Track) Adults 3 years Yes (but less common in Primary Care Tracks)
Pediatrics Children 3 years Yes


Family Medicine physicians care for adults and children. About 30% of family doctors also provide obstetric care. Although family doctors may practice in inpatient and other settings, the mainstay of the specialty focuses on primary care of all ages and has an emphasis on preventive care and community health. In a typical outpatient practice, a family physician will see adults and children to provide well child care, acute care, chronic care, and preventive care. Family Physicians are also trained to do minor procedures such as joint injections, skin biopsies, IUD placement etc., in their practice.

General internists complete a 3-year residency in Internal Medicine. Their training is focused on the care of adults in inpatient, critical care or outpatient settings. General internists refer to internists who practice adult primary care in an outpatient setting, including chronic care, acute care, and preventive care.

General pediatricians complete a 3-year residency in Pediatrics. Their training is focused on care of children in inpatient, outpatient or nursery/NICU settings. Pediatricians in general practice treat children in an outpatient primary care setting, including well child care, acute care, chronic care, and preventive care.

Med/Peds originated as a specialty focused on specialty care, not primary care. It is a four year training. Med/Peds training includes a strong hospital and specialty emphasis. From the NMPRA website: “Med-Peds prepares a physician well for private practice, academic medicine, hospitalist programs, and fellowships.”

The main factors that affect which residency programs students pick include patient populations, location, community setting, and the possibility for sub-specialization. If you are interested in applying in these specialties, contact a career advisor to find out more information.