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Studies & Degrees in Internal Medicine

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The medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis, management and non-surgical treatment of unfamiliar or serious disease conditions is called Internal Medicine. What makes Internal Medicine different from the other types of medical specialties is that it gives greater emphasis on the human body’s internal structures. In North America, medical specialists in the said field are called “internist” while in Commonwealth nations, they are often called physicians. An internist’s work is grounded in the hospital setting since most of their patients are seriously ill thus requiring complex investigations.

Unlike before when internists were not sub-specialized encompassing all complex non-surgical problems, internists in the modern urban setting are now sub-specialists that is to say, their medical practice to certain problems are limited to a particular organ system or area of medical knowledge. An example of which are gastroenterologists and nephrologists who specialize respectively in diseases of the gut and the kidneys. Because internal medicine is only a subspecialty, internists have a lengthy clinical and scientific setting. They also have the special expertise in the usage of prescription medications or other medical therapies unlike surgery. Internists do not merely treat the conditions of a certain organ system; instead they are trained to care for the patients as whole individuals.

Among the responsibilities of internists are patient education on the usage of preventive medications, men and women’s health, substance-related abuse, mental health, and efficient management of eye, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organ problems. In the United States, most adults view internists as their main medical practitioners.

A medical internist’s training and career path greatly vary from country to country. The first step in becoming an internist is to gain entry into the primary or entry level education which includes medical education programs such as tertiary-level courses embarked at a medical school in a certain university. Medical programs that require undergraduate education lasts for four to five years. Therefore, a medical internist gains fundamental medical education for basically eight years depending on the state jurisdiction and university. After the completion of the entry-level training, a fresh medical graduate practitioner is compulsory to undertake a period of supervised practice before the granting of a licensure or registration taking about two years. After which, a medical practitioner is required to undergo a specialist training in internal medicine or on the selected sub-specialty. This period is known as the residency training in North America or the registrars in Commonwealth nations.

There are two organizations duly recognized to issue certifications of sub-specialists within the field in the United States and these are the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine. The following subspecialties are recognized: Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Hematology, Infectious Disease, Medical Oncology, Nephrology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Adolescent Medicine, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Critical Care Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Interentional Cardiology, Sleep Medicine, Sports Medicine, Transplant Hepatology, Allergology and Immunology.

The average salary of internists in the United States ranges from $66,000 to $80,000 depending on the company, location, industry, experience and benefits.