What Is An Internist

They’re doctors who specialize in the internal organs and systems of the body, but they are not limited to those areas. They can also give preventive care and treat anything from skin rashes to ear infections. They only treat adults and they aren’t surgeons.

What is an Internist?

They’re doctors who specialize in the internal organs and systems of the body, but they are not limited to those areas. They can also give preventive care and treat anything from skin rashes to ear infections. They only treat adults and they aren’t surgeons.

When choosing a primary care physician (PCP), you may opt for an internist or a family physician. Both can treat a wide spectrum of conditions. Internists have a great depth of knowledge about adult health issues. Family physicians treat children as well as adults, so they must have a broader base of knowledge.

What Does an Internist Do?

Many internists treat people for a wide variety of illnesses. They’re called general internists, and they typically see people in their office. They manage chronic illnesses and often they have long-lasting relationships with their patients.

Some internists opt for a subspecialty, such as cardiology or gastroenterology. They are still internists, but they are also specialists in their chosen area, too. To do this, they may undergo one to three more years of training.

Some internists only see hospital patients. Others may work in different care settings, such as rehabilitation facilities or centers for hospice care. Some go into research, and others choose to become administrators.

Education and Training

To be internists, you first need to have a four-year undergraduate degree. You’ll also need to complete:

  • Medical school, usually taking four years
  • A three-year residency in internal medicine

You’ll then need to pass an exam to become certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

An internist who chooses a subspecialty will need from one to three more years of education. Some popular areas of specialization for internists were cardiology, pulmonary disease, oncology, critical care, and hematology.

Reasons to See an Internist

If you’ve chosen an internist as your primary care physician, you’ll see your internist for routine care. If you haven’t chosen one as your PCP, you may still see an internist for certain problems.

Here are some reasons you might see a general internist:

Abdominal Pain

Pain in the abdomen can have a variety of causes. It could be from something relatively minor, such as a muscle strain or a stomach virus. More serious illnesses, such as acute appendicitis and several cancers, also cause abdominal pain. You should go to the emergency room for acute pain or if your abdomen is very tender to the touch. For less severe pain, seeing an internist is a good way to start. An internist can help you decide whether your pain is gastrointestinal in nature or caused by something else.

Chest pain doesn’t always mean you are having a heart attack. It can be caused by problems in the lungs or gastrointestinal system. It could be anxiety or acid reflux. Of course, you should call 911 if you are having symptoms of a heart attack. But for different, less severe chest pain, an internist may be able to diagnose your problem.

What to Expect at the Internist

What will happen when you go to an internist will depend upon your reason for going. Still, you can probably expect these steps in care.

The doctor will check your vital signs. You’ll go over your medical history and your list of medications. Your internist will ask about your symptoms and your general state of health. The doctor will usually give you a physical exam. The doctor wants to get a complete picture of your health.

As part of your physical exam, your an internist typically will:

  • Look at your general appearance, including your posture and how you move
  • Listen to your heart, checking for a heart murmur, irregular heartbeat, or other unusual sounds
  • Listen to your breathing, checking for crackles, wheezing, or shortness of breath
  • Look at your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat
  • Check your skin and nails.

For wellness checks, the doctor may order screening tests, such as a lipid panel or bone density test. For specific problems, the doctor will order the appropriate test, whether it be a simple urinalysis or something more complex, like an imaging test. You may be asked to come back for a follow-up visit, or your doctor may advise that you see a different specialist.

If you see other specialists, your internist may consult with your other doctors, coordinate your care, and check for medication interactions. The best internists are proactive and may counsel you on lifestyle changes and steps that you can take to avoid problems in the future. They’ll also check for mental health problems such as depression.

Show Sources

American College of Physicians: “Frequently Asked Questions About Internal Medicine.”

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American College of Physicians: “Internal Medicine vs. Family Medicine.”

American College of Physicians: “Structure of Internal Medicine Residency Training.”

American Medical Association: “Internal Medicine Specialty Description.”

American Medical Association: “What we learned about medical specialty choice in 2018.”

Mayo Clinic: “Abdominal Pain.”

About Internal Medicine

Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.

I.M. the cornerstone of comprehensive health care

Discover the unique leadership roles, career pathways and impact of internal medicine physicians.

What’s an Internal Medicine Physician?

Internal Medicine physicians, sometimes known as Internists or Doctors of Internal Medicine, are experts in complexity. They specialize in adult medicine, and are specially trained to solve diagnostic problems, manage severe long-term illnesses, and help patients with multiple, complex chronic conditions. They provide comprehensive, longitudinal patient care. They have life-long relationships with adult patients, and their recommendations are based on each patient’s unique situation.

Internal Medicine physicians see the big picture. Their deep training and knowledge of the entire human body and its organ systems give them a unique perspective of how everything works in unison. They analyze, consider and make connections from multiple data sets, and identify solutions for optimal health outcomes. Internal medicine physicians are known as the “doctor’s doctor” because they are often called upon by other medical professionals for their ability to connect the dots and help solve problems. Their expertise makes them vital to both patients and medical professionals.

General Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine physicians spend at least three of their seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training dedicated to learning how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults. Many internal medicine physicians enter into practice following completion of their basic internal medicine training. These physicians practice “general internal medicine” and are commonly referred to as “general internists” and “internal medicine physicians.” Internal medicine physicians are trained to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and are recognized as experts in diagnosis, in treatment of chronic illness, and in health promotion and disease prevention—they are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time.

Internal Medicine physicians serve, and lead, in many diverse roles and settings. Their training uniquely qualifies them to practice primary care and follow patients over the duration of their adult lives. Some internal medicine physicians provide outpatient care, while others, sometimes referred to as “hospitalists,” focus on caring for patients in hospital settings or combine these facets of care and provide both outpatient and inpatient care. The majority of hospitalists in the U.S. are internal medicine physicians. Internal Medicine physicians also practice in other clinical settings, such as rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, and health clinics.

Internal Medicine Subspecialties

Some Internal Medicine physicians choose to take additional training to “subspecialize” in a more focused area of internal medicine. Subspecialty training (often called a “fellowship”) usually requires an additional one to three years beyond the basic three year internal medicine residency. Although physicians who have completed additional training in a particular area of internal medicine are frequently referred to by their area of subspecialty focus (for example, those who subspecialize in diseases of the heart are usually called “cardiologists”), all share the same basic internal medicine training and are also considered internal medicine physicians The training an internal medicine physician receives to subspecialize in a particular medical area is both broad and deep, and qualifies them to manage very complex medical issues and in many cases perform advanced clinical procedures.

What is an internist and what do they do?

If you are interested in a career that combines building patient relationships with treating a wide range of health issues, becoming an internist might be a good career choice. As a doctor of internal medicine, you will diagnose and treat diseases and conditions of internal organs in adults, deliver comprehensive medical care and serve as your patients’ first point of care.

Internal medicine often attracts doctors interested in preventative medicine, the complexity of this specialty, and the opportunity to build long-term patient relationships. Practicing as an internist can also provide you with multiple opportunities to work in various fields such as cardiology, oncology, infectious diseases, and many other fascinating areas. Read on to find out more about internist doctors.

What is an internist?

Internists are doctors, caregivers, researchers, and investigators who specialize in internal medicine. Internists use scientific research and clinical expertise to diagnose and treat patients. While their primary focus is on internal systems, they treat the whole body while working towards optimal wellness for the patient.

Internists deal with most types of illness or injury, including chronic and acute conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They specialize in managing diseases of internal organs such as the kidneys, heart, liver, and lungs while also acting as primary care doctors for patients aged over 18.

Internal medicine doctors focus on solving complex diagnostic problems, disease prevention, mental health, wellness coaching, women’s health services, reproductive health services, disease management, dermatology, and ear/nose/throat patient care. Some general internists include one or more subspecialties in their medical practice, such as cardiology.

An internist aims to take care of a patient for life, whether in the office, clinic, nursing home, or during hospitalization. An internist will coordinate patient care and manage any complex medical issues that arise with that care.

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What does an internist do?

Internists travel between their offices, hospitals, and clinics to care for their patients. During their working hours, they may need to make an emergency visit to a nursing home or hospital or address a patient’s concern over the phone. Other responsibilities of an internist include:

  • Taking a patient’s medical history
  • Analyzing patient medical records to make informed diagnoses
  • Recommending patients to specialists if and when necessary
  • Ordering tests for healthcare staff to perform
  • Reviewing test results to identify any abnormal findings
  • Updating charts and patient information to show current findings and treatments
  • Designing a plan of treatment
  • Addressing patient concerns and answer questions they may have about their health and wellbeing
  • Assisting patients with taking care of their health
  • Directing the activities of nurses and other patient care staff

Types of internists

Internists treat a broad range of diseases and conditions in adults. However, some internists choose to focus on specific areas of internal medicine. There are 14 subspecialties of internal medicine certified by t he Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education:

  • Allergy and immunology: Diagnosis and treatment of allergies and diseases of the immune system
  • Cardiovascular care: Diagnosis and treatment of heart-related diseases
  • Critical care: The provision of care for critically ill patients, usually involving life support
  • Endocrinology: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the endocrine system, such as hormonal diseases and diabetes
  • Gastroenterology: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract
  • Geriatric medicine: Care for elderly patients
  • Hematology: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the blood
  • Infectious diseases: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria
  • Nephrology: Diagnosis and treatment of kidney-related diseases
  • Occupational medicine: Care for workers and prevention of diseases and disabilities attributed to the workplace
  • Oncology: Diagnosis and treatment of malignant and benign tumors
  • Pulmonary/respiratory medicine: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the respiratory system and lungs and
  • Rheumatology: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting bones, joints, and muscles

What is the difference between an internist, general practitioner, and hospitalist ?

Internists and general practitioners are both primary care physicians who provide medical care to adults. However, there are key differences that differentiate them from each other.

Internist vs general practitioner

Only treats adults

Treats people of all ages

Work in hospitals and larger clinics

Works in private clinics

Treats patients referred to them

Provides the first step of medical care then may refer patient to a specialist such as an internist

May have trained in a subspeciality such as pulmonology or cardiology

May have trained in family medicine

Works with inpatient and outpatient

What is the difference between an internist and a hospitalist?

Hospitalists and internists are both doctors who provide care for patients in a hospital. They both provide the same level of care to hospitalized patients, diagnose and treat acute illnesses and perform medical procedures during their patient’s hospitalization.

Hospitalist vs Internist

Only provides care to adults

Provides care to people of all ages

Works in hospitals and outpatient settings

Works exclusively in a hospital

Provides care to patients throughout their adult lives

Provides care to patients only during their hospital stay

Can admit patients to hospitals

Deals with patients admitted to hospital

How to become an internist?

Becoming an internist involves a four-year undergraduate degree from a medical school. You will need to study at an accredited school of medicine and pass exams from the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). After completing medical school, you will graduate with a medical doctor (MD) degree.

Your next step to becoming an internist is a three-year residency in internal medicine. During residency, you’ll practice internal medicine under the supervision of experienced physicians. Your residency may include rotations in a teaching hospital, intensive care unit, outpatient clinics, subspecialty clinics, or community medical practices. During residency, you will learn to diagnose and treat a wide variety of adult illnesses.

The final step is to pass a board certification exam set by the American Board of Internal Medicine . You will then be qualified to practice general internal medicine. About half of all internists go on to practice general internal medicine, serving as primary care physicians. Meanwhile, other internists pursue further training to subspecialize in a specific branch of internal medicine.

Careers in internal medicine

As an internist or internal medicine physician, you can expect to see patients in an office-based setting and during patient rounds in the hospital. Most internists typically work 40 hours a week, seeing approximately 20 to 25 patients per day. Many internists are also on call, so they can work at night or during their days off. Internists have more flexibility than other medical specialists when it comes to the hours they work and the career paths they choose.

Where do internists work?

Due to the broad scope of their work, internists have many options as to where they work. Internists can work in medical offices, large clinics, and hospitals and often do so in combination. They may work as a solo practitioner or partner with other physicians to form a group practice. Meanwhile, some internists are employed by a clinic or hospital as salaried staff.

What is an internist salary?

Regarding how much do internists make, the average pay for an interest in the United States is between $202,600 and $255,500 . The specific salary will depend on experience, education and training, geographic location, type of practice, and their chosen specialization.

Becoming an internist opens many paths

Internal medicine is a highly versatile specialty, giving internists various options in terms of career paths. An internist can choose to become an employee of a hospital, group, or clinic or open their own practice. An internist can also become a hospitalist, with no additional education or training required. Internists can also complete a fellowship allowing them to subspecialize in other medical disciplines.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in internal medicine, reach out to us with any questions you have or to find out more about how to apply .

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Family Medicine

Family MedicineIn 2024 our team of doctors and nurses provide a comprehensive range of family planning services. Our doctors have expertise in antenatal care, preconception planning, and STD checks. Contraceptive advice including Mirena and Implanon insertion is available.

  • Early detection of illness;
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  • Promotion of healthy lifestyle;
  • Skin cancer checks;
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  • Children's Health

    Children's HealthBaby Weighing Service. Babies can be booked with our Nurse for weighing, a doctors appointment is not required to use this service. Contact reception for a appointment to have your baby weighed.

    Immunisations. At Tuggeranong Square children's immunisation is regarded an important part of your childs health care. Our doctors take immunising children very seriously. and to ensure all children are immunised Tuggeranong Square Medical Practice doctors BULK BILL for all childhood immunisations. Tuggeranong Square Medical Practice also ensures the Practice Nursing Staff are highly trained in childhood immunisations.

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    Women's HealthOur practice is dedicated to treating a wide spectrum of women’s health concerns. We offer pre-natal, antenatal and postnatal care, contraceptive options, pap screening, and preventative health care advice. We provide assistance, advice and support through all stages of life, recognising the many issues many women may face from adolescence through to the peri and post-menopausal period.

    • Cervical Screening tests;
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    Men's Health

    Men's HealthWe encourage men to present routinely to their GP to discuss all aspects of their health. We provide comprehensive advice and support for men to address the prevention and management of various health conditions. This may include assessments for cardiovascular risk, diabetes, cancer prevention, mental health assessments, STD screening, sports injuries and the importance of sleep as it relates to other areas of health.

    • Preventative Healthcare. Including cardiovascular screening, mental health and cancer checks;
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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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