Internal Medicine is a discipline that concentrates on providing medical attention, treatment, and care of adults. Medical students spend a substantial amount of time studying how to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases that impact the health and well-being of human adults. This fundamental knowledge and understanding allow them to become a practitioner of internal medicine. Internal Medicine practitioners are also referred to as "internists", “general internists” or "doctors of internal medicine."
By applying scientific understanding and clinical knowledge, Internal Medicine practitioners diagnose, treat, and provide care to adults who are suffering from complicated diseases and disorders. Specialists of Internal Medicine are uniquely equipped to diagnose perplexing illnesses and medical complexities.
Roles of Internal Medicine Practitioners
Adults who are suffering from chronic diseases like heart disorders, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, and other such diseases, are brought to the attention of Internists. Below are the roles that an Internist undertakes:
An internist collaborates and consults with specialists from other fields of medicine to diagnose, treat, and care for adults who are suffering from complex health problems and diseases.
An internist may also act in the capacity of a consultant for other doctors.
Generally, Internists work in hospitals where they provide care and treatment to patients. These internists are often referred to as “hospitalists”.
Some internists also provide patient care by providing outpatient consultation and care.
Some internists administer treatment and care in rehabilitation centres and long-term care facilities, as these are the settings where adults who are suffering from chronic diseases are offered clinical care.
Responsibilities of an Internal Medicine Practitioner
General internists are often the entry point of care and treatment for adult patients. Below are some of the key responsibilities of an internal medicine practitioner:
Internal medicine is a broad discipline and therefore, the work responsibilities of an internist may differ. For instance, a patient with an ear infection could be placed under the care of an internist, who is also providing treatment to a patient who is suffering from diabetes.
Internists are responsible for maintaining coordination with other medical staff and consultants, so that the care and treatment so that long term treatment and care could be administered effectively.
Internists operate in a wide area of medicine. Hence, they are required to cultivate an in-depth understanding of a broad spectrum of health conditions.
Patients who are undergoing treatment for one disease or disorder may develop other long-term health complications. In order to tackle such challenges, Internists should have a grasp on how different diseases may overlap and manifest in the body.
Internists are responsible for careful observation and monitoring of treatment. Internists may have to update treatment according to the patient’s response to the treatment, so as to optimally manage symptoms.
Internists are also tasked with the responsibility of performing clinical research, which may include responsibilities such as conducting clinical trials.
Abstracting insights from healthcare records is also a task that internists are responsible for.
Other responsibilities of an internist include health promotion and disease prevention.
Additional Skills required by an Internal Medicine Practitioner
There are some additional skills that an Internal Medicine practitioner might find useful:
Internists should have good verbal and written communication skills. It allows them to establish trust with the patient, which in turn enables the patients to convey the health problems they are experiencing. Once patients open up and share their problems, Internists should also be good at listening to those problems, because only then will they acquire a better understanding of the complication that the patient is suffering from.
Diagnosing complex, overlapping health conditions require robust problem-solving skills, and therefore, internists must try to hone their critical thinking abilities so that they can put their observation skills and knowledge acquired during training to good use during performing diagnosis and administering treatment.
Dedication to learning
Internal medicine is one of the broadest fields of medicine, and there are always new things to learn. Hence, an internist must remain open to learning about new developments in the field, in order to grow as a medical professional.
Current Required Educations for a career in Internal Medicine
In order to become a practitioner of Internal Medicine, you would have to undergo the following education and training:
Graduation from a four-year medical school.
Completion of three-year Residency in General Internal medicine.
After completing the above training, a physician may choose to practice Internal medicine or may choose to further specialize in a subspecialty of Internal Medicine. Subspecialty training or fellowship, as it’s commonly called, usually takes two to three years. Some fields of sub-specialization include cardiology and infectious diseases.
Careers path for Internal Medicine Practitioners
Below are some sub-specialties that an internal medicine practitioner can specialize in to tap into the different career opportunities in those fields:
- Pay Scale as per the Experience
Internists, along with other physicians are generously compensated. On average, an internist earns around $217,482, according to 2019 statistics. Depending upon the experience level and geographic location, an internist, on average, earns anywhere between $195,942 and $247,145 in the US.
- Top hospitals to work with
1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
2. Cleveland Clinic
3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
4. New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell, New York
5. UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
6. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
7. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
8. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
9. NYU Langone Hospitals, New York
10. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
- Other Employment Opportunities
There several other employment opportunities that an internal medicine practitioner can tap into by specializing in any of the below-mentioned fields of specializations:
Allergy and Immunology
Pro & Cons of Being an Internal Medicine Practitioner
General internists are considered experts in diagnosing, managing and treating chronic diseases. Because they are entrusted with primary care of people suffering from long-term illnesses, internists are often put in charge of patients for a substantial duration of their adult lives. This offers internists an opportunity to forge long-term, rewarding relationships with the people who are under their care.
Instead of limiting their expertise to a particular domain, general internists are uniquely equipped to tackle a spectrum of different diseases and complex health problems. Internists get to a study about a number of different diseases and disorders.
Internists often work long hours.
Quite often, the causes that are responsible for chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems, etc., has to do with the unhealthy lifestyle of the patient. It can be frustrating to guide patients to change their habits and adopt a more healthy way of life, especially, when they are not self-motivated to adopt healthy habits.
Internists not only help people to mitigate the symptoms of long-term diseases, but also encourage and educate people so that they can change their habits and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Motivating people to live a healthy life is extremely rewarding, both professionally and personally. You too can choose this incredible career path. LikeHire is an amazing platform that allows healthcare professionals and recruiters to connect and mutually benefit one another. Link Hire is extending assistance to healthcare professionals so that they can explore new possibilities to further their careers.