The career medicine offers is lucrative and noble, and the prospects are great by far and wide. However, the field is tough and not just tough; it is beyond tough. The largest available field in medicine is internal medicine.
In the United States, there are more than 200,000 practicing specialists in this field. Canada has less than that number but considerable in accordance with its population.
Internal medicine specialists are also referred to as internists. Apart from American and Canadian medical schools teaching it, Caribbean medical schools have started teaching internal medicine as well (Windsor University). This has helped improve healthcare in the Caribbean.
Internal medicine has an active community with numerous physicians working in the field in different titles. Most are internal medicine specialists and have evolved healthcare positively; ranging from making friendlier policies and improving practices to bringing innovative healthcare solutions and the like.
Introducing internal medicine briefly
Internal medicine is a medical specialty focusing on the identification & treatment of diseases, conditions and issues affecting the human body. They can adversely affect many internal organs at a time thus needing specialists that can identify those issues and treat them in the best manner.
The study of internal medicine is present in a combination of the following medical disciplines:
- Bacteriology – the study of bacteria.
- Pathology – the study of various diseases.
- Physiology – studying the human body’s functions.
Combining the above disciplines together results in the creation of internal medicine. Specialists of such (internists) can treat numerous conditions with ease (usually those that can manifest themselves in multiple ways). High blood pressure, diabetes, and other related ailments are the condition they treat and prevent from metastasizing into more threatening conditions.
What is the difference between family and internal medicine?
Internal medicine has often been used in conjunction with family medicine confusingly many times. Despite the fact that both disciplines concentrate on the treatment and prevention of numerous diseases and conditions, they both have their own distinct features making both different from the other.
The biggest difference is that physicians who are specialists in internal medicine are usually providing treatment to adults. Whereas family medicine physicians and specialists provide treatment to patients of any age, whether they are children, pediatricians, adults, or senior citizens (pregnancy pillow).
There are further differences in the ways family practice physicians think about and practice medicine. This starts with the studies and training they learn in medical school. Family practice doctors treat patients of all ages because their education and training include those areas that are not covered in internal medicine.
But, for areas included in both programs, education for students of internal medicine is quite in-depth and their training is also comprehensive.
What do internists do?
Internal medicine specialists have duties constantly evolving because of the discoveries made in ailments, diseases, and their respective treatments. They also search for new medicines to ensure their patients are able to recover in time.
Internists must stay in line with the latest trends and information in medicine, especially about medications and diseases. Why? Because apart from doctors, they also work as caregivers, researchers, and investigators apart from physicians delivering the best care and ensuring patients get back to normal.
What are the subspecialties of internal medicine?
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) officially recognizes around 14 subspecialties of internal medicine. Internal medicine specialists in training can complete further residency training in any of the following subspecialties:
- Gastroenterology: The diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract.
- Allergy and immunology: Diagnosing and treating allergic reactions and diseases of the human immune system.
- Infectious diseases: Diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by microorganisms, like bacteria, viruses, etc.
- Geriatric Medicine: This pertains to caring for elderly patients.
- Rheumatology: The diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting bones, muscles, and joints.
- Occupational medicine: Pertains to care for works and prevention of diseases and disabilities attributed directly to environmental factors in the workplace and employment practice.
- Endocrinology: The diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the endocrine system (like diabetes or hormonal conditions).
- Oncology: The diagnosis and treatment of tumors (both benign and malignant).
- Nephrology: The diagnosis and treatment of ailments, conditions, and diseases involving the kidneys.
- Cardiovascular care: The diagnosis and treatment of ailments affecting and involving the heart.
- Hematology: The diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving blood and blood creating organs.
- Critical Care: Here, internists care for patients critically ill and involves a form of life support (or full life support).
- Pulmonary/Respiratory Medicine: It is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the lungs and respiratory system.