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.
At least three of their seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training are dedicated to learning how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults. Internists are sometimes referred to as the “doctor’s doctor,” because they are often called upon to act as consultants to other physicians to help solve puzzling diagnostic problems.
Simply put, internists are Doctors of Internal Medicine. You may see them referred to by several terms, including “internists,” “general internists” and “doctors of internal medicine.” But don’t mistake them with “interns,” who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
Although internists may act as primary care physicians, they are not “family physicians,” “family practitioners,” or “general practitioners,” whose training is not solely concentrated on adults and may include surgery, obstetrics and pediatrics.
Caring for the Whole Patient
Internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings — no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. 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. They also bring to patients an understanding of wellness (disease prevention and the promotion of health), women’s health, substance abuse, mental health, as well as effective treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.