With some physicians, it’s easy to tell what their medical specialty
is—pediatricians care for children, neurologists focus on the brain
and nervous system, and gynecologists concentrate on women’s health.
But what exactly is an internist? (And no, it’s not an intern.)
“The American College of Physicians calls internists the ‘doctor’s
doctor’ because they are called upon for their wide-ranging medical
Monica Ferguson, MD, an internal medicine physician at
Annadel Medical Group. “Doctors of internal medicine often consult with other physicians
on cases because the internists have trained for years to handle the diagnosis
and treatment of many health conditions in adults, as well as preventive
measures patients can take to meet their wellness goals. And because they
have a broad perspective on health, they also make great primary care
Internists spend their three-year medical school residency focusing on
the various aspects of internal medicine, which can encompass cancer,
mental health, complex diseases and everyday ailments, among many other
issues. Also, internists can choose to further study a subspecialty after
they finish medical school. There are 13 internal medicine subspecialties,
which include cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonology
Using an internist as a primary care doctor is quite common—in fact,
your own doctor may be an internist. A 2010 survey conducted by the U.S.
Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality found that more than a third of all practicing primary
care doctors in America were general internists.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.