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Internal Medicine: Isn't It ALL Internal?

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Some have wondered what exactly internal medicine is. It could be argued that most of what doctors do to treat people is internal, with the exception of dermatologists. However, the field of internal medicine is surprisingly specialized, with a broad range of subspecialties.

An internist, as a doctor of internal medicine is called, is one who specializes in diagnosing and treating adult sicknesses and diseases. In order to become an internist, one must first finish medical school, and then do 4 years of an internal medicine residency. At this point, a doctor will have acquired a vast knowledge of common adult ailments, remedies, and medications that are frequently used. Internists should be experts at diagnosing patients, no matter how complex the situation is. Sometimes patients symptoms are convoluted due to the medications they are currently taking, or a complex family history. Internists should be able to see through all of the different circumstances to be able to diagnose a patient correctly.

Once a patient is diagnosed, there are referrals to be made. As previously mentioned, in internal medicine subspecialties reign supreme. After completing the 4 years of an internal medicine residency, many doctors choose to specialize in one specific field by completing a fellowship. Specialties usually focus on one system of the body. Fellowships may be anywhere from 1-4 years, depending on what they will be doing as part of their normal practice. For example, doctors who will routinely perform surgeries may need a few extra years of practice with a more experienced doctor before they are proficient in surgery.

Common subspecialties of internal medicine include:

Rheumatology. Rheumatology is the study and treatment of problems related to the joints and muscular system. Commonly, rheumatologists treat many autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, and osteoporosis, to name a few. 

Oncology. Oncologists study and treat problems associated with cancer. This includes dosing and administering chemotherapy drugs, which are quite volatile.

Cardiovascular Diseases. Heart and lung diseases will be treated in a cardiovascular internist's office. A lot of surgery is often required in this subspecialty, such as placing stints in the heart to help it heal.

Nephrology. Nephrology is the study and treatment of issues associated with the kidneys. The kidneys are the main filters of the body. Should they stop filtering, the blood quickly becomes contaminated and individuals become very sick. Nephrologists are responsible for treating this condition, and commonly do so with dialysis.

In short, internal medicine is basically the father of most specialties. For more information about internal medicine and its subspecialties, you can contact medical practitioners like Harvey Harold E II MD PLLC.


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