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Internal medicine is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists. They are especially skilled in the management of patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes. Internists care for hospitalized and ambulatory patients and may play a major role in teaching and research. Although some internists are full-time hospitalists, many fulfill locum tenens (temporary) positions both stateside and internationally. Internal medicine is also a specialty within veterinary medicine.
The term internal medicine comes from the German term Innere Medizin, popularized in Germany in the late 19th century to describe physicians who combined the science of the laboratory with the care of patients. Many early-20th-century American doctors studied medicine in Germany and brought this medical field to the United States. Thus, the name "internal medicine" was adopted in imitation of the existing German term. Specialists in internal medicine are commonly called internists in the United States. Elsewhere, especially in Commonwealth nations, such specialists are often simply called physicians. Because their patients are often seriously ill or require complex investigations, internists do much of their work in hospitals.
Definition of an internist
Internists are qualified physicians with postgraduate training in diagnosis and internal medicine and should not be confused 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. The American College of Physicians defines internists as "physicians who specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults".
Education and training of internists
The training and career pathways for internists vary considerably across the world.
First, they must receive the "entry-level" education required of any health care professional in the relevant jurisdiction. The entry-level for such programs is tertiary-level courses, undertaken at a medical school, osteopathic school or chiropractic school attached to a university or separately accredited.
Programs that require previous undergraduate education are usually four or five years in length. Hence, gaining a basic professional education may typically take as long as eight years, depending on jurisdiction and institution. Following completion of entry-level training, newly graduated practitioners are often required to undertake a period of supervised practice before the licensure, or registration, is granted, typically one or two years. This period may be referred to as, "internship" or "conditional registration." Then, internists require specialist training in internal medicine or one of its subspecialties. In North America, this postgraduate training is often referred to as residency training; in Commonwealth countries, such trainees are often called registrars. For chiropractors specializing in diagnosis and internal disorders, this training is three years, following graduation from an accredited chiropractic college.
Subspecialties of internal medicine
In the United States, THREE organizations are responsible for certification of subspecialists within the field: the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine and the Chiropractic Council on Diagnosis and Internal disorders.
American Board of Internal Medicine
- Cardiology, dealing with disorders of the heart and blood vessels
- Endocrinology, dealing with disorders of the endocrine system and its specific secretions called hormones
- Gastroenterology, concerned with the field of digestive diseases
- Hematology, concerned with blood, the blood-forming organs and its disorders
- Infectious disease, concerned with disease caused by a biological agent such as by a virus, bacterium or parasite
- Medical oncology, dealing with the chemotherapeutic (chemical) treatment of cancer
- Nephrology, dealing with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney
- Pulmonology, dealing with diseases of the lungs and the respiratory tract
- Rheumatology, devoted to the diagnosis and therapy of rheumatic diseases.
- Adolescent medicine
- Clinical cardiac electrophysiology
- Critical care medicine
- Geriatric medicine
- Interventional cardiology
- Hospital medicine
- Sleep medicine
- Sports medicine
- Transplant hepatology
Internists may also specialize in "allergy" and "immunology." The American Board of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology is a conjoint board between internal medicine and pediatrics.
American College of Osteopathic Internists
- Critical care medicine
- Geriatric medicine
- Infectious diseases
- Nuclear medicine
Medical diagnosis and treatment
Medicine is mainly focused on the art of diagnosis and treatment with medication, but many subspecialties administer surgical treatment:
- Cardiology: angioplasty, cardioversion, cardiac ablation, intra-aortic balloon pump
- Gastroenterology: endoscopy and ERCP
- Pulmonology: Bronchoscopy
- Nephrology: dialysis
- Critical care medicine: mechanical ventilation
- Locum Tenens Internal Medicine http://www.vistastaff.com/job-board/im
- http://www.acponline.org/patients_families/about_internal_medicine/ American College of Physicians
- "ACP: Who We Are". American College of Physicians. http://www.acponline.org/about_acp/who_we_are/. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
- "abim.org". https://www.abim.org/cert/policiesssaq.shtm. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- "www.acoi.org". http://www.acoi.org/MembershipsSpecialty.html. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- Chiropractic Council on Diagnosis and Internal disorders site
- International Society of Internal Medicine
- Internal Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand
- Western US Internal Medicine Positions
- The American Board of Internal Medicine
- Canadian Society of Internal Medicine
- The American College of Osteopathic Internists
- Henry Ford Hospital Internal Medicine
- American College of Physicians
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