An internist is a physician, or a 'doctor of internal medicine', who applies scientific knowledge and clinical expertise in order to diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. They can be generalists or sub-specialists, like cardiologists or rheumatologists. If they choose not to sub-specialize, they are known as general internists.
Note: They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
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Internists generally act as personal physicians and often develop long-term relationships with their patients. Internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings, no matter how simple or complex, common or rare. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may be prevalent at the same time. They also bring to patients an understanding of wellness (the promotion of health and disease prevention), women's health, mental health, substance abuse, as well as effective treatment of common problems of the ears, eyes, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.
Internists can choose to focus their practice on general internal medicine or take additional training to "sub-specialize" in additional areas of internal medicine.
There are 13 sub-specialties of internal medicine:
A doctor of internal medicine may work in a clinic, private office, or hospital. Work in a clinic or hospital usually provides a salary or percentage of profit from clinic work. Usually, an office is provided when working in a clinic or hospital. Additionally, sufficient staff are available for billing, patient care, and to assist with diagnostic testing. Opening a private office provides flexibility, however, the doctor is responsible for providing staff to assist with patients and billing.
A panel of internists spoke candidly to residents about the pros and cons of several career choices. Here's what they had to say about five different internal medicine practice settings.
Internists are doctors who diagnose and treat adult patients at all stages of health. They're usually the first doctor you'll see if you have a general issue and aren't sure which specialist to go to.
I feel that a good doctor is a good teacher, and one of my obligations is to educate my patients as well as possible.
Some physicians prefer to practice medicine in a broader sense, providing across-the-board primary care to a consistent group of patients over their career. Internists and general practitioners are two of the common types of primary care physicians.
Internists are typically generalists who cover a broad scope of medicine to include total body wellness, disease prevention, and management of chronic conditions and illnesses. Internists typically treat adults, some adolescents, and elderly as well.
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.