Internal medicine or internal health care is the specialized medical field dealing specifically with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of internal illnesses. Physicians practicing in internal medicine are known as internal practitioners, or internists in many Commonwealth countries. Internists may specialize in a particular illness, such as paediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, and gastroenterology. In the United States, there are approximately thirteen hundred internists practicing out of a total population of nearly two hundred thousand physicians. The field of internal medicine includes a variety of specialties, including paediatrics, family practice, women’s health, neonatology/palliative care, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, and oncology.
Although most internal medicine physicians complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, there are also an increasing number who have opted to continue their education by earning an advanced degree, either a Master’s or PhD program. A recent survey showed that one in four residents within an urban medical facility were enrolled in an advanced degree program. Internal medicine doctors can choose to focus on a specific illness, including paediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, cardiovascular medicine, oncology, or women’s health. Many internal medicine internists choose to continue their education by getting additional degrees, including a master’s in public health, an associate’s degree in paediatrics, an assistant doctorate in internal medicine, or a bachelor’s degree in public health, paediatrics, cardiovascular, and diabetes.
Some internal medicine doctors go on to become board certified, which earns them a professional credential that allows them to do more consulting. In some states, these doctors can become licensed as surgeons or specialists. Other doctors choose to become certified as either a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant. Certified nurse practitioners are trained to diagnose, treat, and manage patients with a wide range of health concerns, including mental health, adult care, paediatric, gynaecological, trauma, and acute care. A physician assistant is trained to provide basic healthcare services under the supervision of a licensed physician. They can be called interns, licensed practical nurses (LPN), or licensed vocational nurses (LVN).
There are many specialties within the field of internal medicine physicians practice. The most common ones are family medicine, geriatrics, paediatrics, trauma, women’s health, men’s health, gastroenterology, critical care, dental medicine, dermatology, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, and sub-specialty departments include cardiology, radiology, clinical and research facility, neurology, infectious disease, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, haematology, toxicology, orthopaedics, cardiology, pulmonary disease, and gastroenterology. These specialties vary from one area of practice to another. In addition, general internists may work in the offices of doctors of specific specialties.
When comparing internal medicine versus family medicine, there are other aspects to consider besides age, medical school, residency, certification, specialty, etc. Age is a factor because as people get older they tend to have chronic conditions that cause them pain on a more constant basis than younger individuals. Medical school can be a determining factor because it takes years to become an internal medicine physician. Residency is necessary for many family practitioners because they have to learn the medical procedures that occur in a hospital setting.
Another difference between the two specialties is their focus on preventative care. Family practitioners are primarily concerned with wellness, whereas internal medicine physicians are primarily concerned with disease prevention. Doctors of Family Practice also emphasize comprehensive patient education, especially in chronic health. They also educate their patients on stress management techniques to reduce medical complications. While these differences are important to know, there are other factors to consider as well.