Internal medicine, also called general medicine (in Commonwealth nations), is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists or physicians.
Internal medicine encompasses a broad range of medical knowledge and patient care. Internists are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of medical conditions, from acute illnesses to chronic diseases. They also provide preventive care, health education, and management of ongoing medical issues.
Hospitalists and primary care
Internists play a critical role in managing patients with undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes. They can work in various settings, such as outpatient clinics, hospitals, and academic institutions.
Primary care physicians: Internists who primarily care for patients in an outpatient setting are called primary care physicians. They manage routine checkups, vaccinations, and common medical problems, as well as coordinating care with other specialists.
Hospitalists: Internists who focus on taking care of hospitalized patients are called hospitalists. They manage inpatient care, including admission, treatment, and discharge, and often work with other specialists to provide comprehensive care.
What do Internal Medicine physicians do?
Internal medicine physicians diagnose and provide non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. They care mainly for adults who have a wide range of problems associated with the internal organs. Subspecialists, such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, hematologists, oncologists, nephrologists, etc., are internal medicine physicians who have undergone additional training in a specific field after completing their internal medicine residency.
Internal medicine physicians can perform various procedures depending on their practice scope. Some common procedures include:
- Venipuncture for blood draws
- Arterial puncture or (ABG)
- Endotracheal tube placement or intubation
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Intravenous (IV) line insertion
- Nasogastric tube (NG tube) placement
- Urinary catheters placement (Foley's catheter)
Other procedures include Abdominal paracentesis, Arterial line placement, Central venous line placement, Arthrocentesis, Electrocardiography, Incision / drainage of an abscess, Lumbar puncture, and Thoracentesis, among others.
Top internal medicine journals
Internists follow various academic journals to stay updated with the latest studies and research in the field of internal medicine. Some of the top journals include:
- Journal of Internal Medicine
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- The New England Journal of Medicine
- Journal of General Internal Medicine
- The Lancet
- JAMA Internal Medicine
Choosing the right internist
When selecting an internal medicine physician, consider factors such as their experience, qualifications, communication style, and office location. For more tips on choosing a doctor, visit Choosing a Doctor: Quick Tips.
Education of internal medicine physicians
Internal medicine physicians complete a four-year medical degree (MD or DO) followed by a three-year internal medicine residency program. During residency, they gain hands-on experience in various medical subspecialties, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, and more. They learn to manage patients with diverse medical conditions and coordinate care with other specialists.
Internal medicine residency training
Internal medicine residency programs typically last three years and provide comprehensive training in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a wide range of adult diseases. Residents rotate through various medical subspecialties, inpatient and outpatient settings, and critical care units. They also receive training in evidence-based medicine, medical ethics, and patient communication.
Subspecialties of internal medicine
After completing an internal medicine residency, physicians can choose to pursue additional training in a subspecialty through fellowship programs. These fellowships typically last 1-3 years and offer specialized training in fields such as:
- Cardiology: Heart and vascular conditions
- Endocrinology: Hormonal and metabolic disorders
- Gastroenterology: Digestive system disorders
- Hematology: Blood disorders
- Infectious diseases: Diagnosis and treatment of infections
- Nephrology: Kidney diseases
- Oncology: Cancer care
- Pulmonology: Lung and respiratory conditions
- Rheumatology: Joint, muscle, and autoimmune diseases
Job opportunities and prospects
Internal medicine physicians can work in various settings, including private practices, hospitals, academic institutions, and research facilities. They may also choose to focus on specific populations, such as geriatric or adolescent medicine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for physicians are expected to grow, with an increasing demand for healthcare services due to an aging population and advancements in medical technology.
For more information on job profiles and outlook, see BLS.GOV
Upon completion of their residency training, internal medicine physicians can become board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM). Board certification demonstrates that the physician has met rigorous standards of knowledge and practice in their field. Additionally, subspecialty certifications are available for those who complete fellowship training in a specific area of internal medicine.
Professional organizations for internal medicine physicians offer networking opportunities, continuing education, and advocacy for their members. Some prominent organizations include:
- American College of Physicians (ACP)
- Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)
- American Society of Internal Medicine (ASIM)
- European Federation of Internal Medicine (EFIM)
- Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in the UK
These organizations provide resources, guidelines, and updates on the latest research and best practices in internal medicine, helping physicians stay current in their field.
List of Internal medicine physicians (USA)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
List of Internal medicine doctors
Comprehensive list of Category:Internal medicine providers in the United States.
- International Society of Internal Medicine
- Internal Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand
- The American Board of Internal Medicine
- Canadian Society of Internal Medicine
- The American College of Osteopathic Internists
- American College of Physicians
Internal medicine - AI prompts and tools
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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD