Internal medicine

Internal medicine

Internal medicine is the branch and speciality of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of illnesses in adults, particularly of internal organs. Doctors of internal medicine, also known as "internists", are obliged to have integrated in their medical schooling and postgraduate training at least three years dedicated to learning how to avoid, diagnose, and treat illnesses that influence adults.

Become an Internist

In order to begin training in internal medicine, doctors are obliged to attend a recognized medical school and complete obligatory internships and residencies. Medical schools require undergraduate education in science as well as achievement of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Internal medicine requires a 3-year residency previous to board certification in the United States. In Canada, only 2 years are obligatory for family medicine board certification.

Internists spend more time training to focus in a particular internal organ or system. For example, internists may specialize in the digestive system. In that case, they would observe a lot of patients with problems associated to the stomach, liver, intestines, or other digestive organs. And they would perceive those same patients for other illnesses, such as the flu.

Nature of the work

Internists are occasionally consigned to as the "doctor's doctor," because they are frequently called upon to work as consultants to other doctors to help resolve mystifying diagnostic problems. While the specialty "internal medicine" may guide one to believe that internists only treat "internal" problems, this is not the case. Internal medicine's doctors treat the whole person, not only internal organs.

Internists are trained in inconveniences of the internal organs including the kidneys, liver, stomach, and digestive tract. If an internist decides an additional speciality, training may include a focus on a particular area of medicine like critical care, cardiology, geriatrics, allergy, nuclear medicine, and more.


According to the American Medical Association, the annual salary for internists ranges from $175,900 to $250,096.


Internists may work as primary care doctors but are not the same as family practitioners. Most internists specialize in other areas like cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, infectious diseases, and several more.