An integral part of primary care, internal medicine focuses on adult medicine and the prevention and treatment of adult diseases. Internists are sometimes referred to as the “doctor’s doctor” because they are often called upon to act as consultants to other physicians to help solve puzzling diagnostic problems.
Internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings — no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations in which several different illnesses may strike at the same time. They also bring to patients an understanding of wellness (disease prevention and the promotion of health), women’s health, substance abuse and mental health, as well as effective treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.
Internists can choose to focus their practice on general internal medicine, or may take additional training to “subspecialize” in one of 13 areas of internal medicine. Cardiologists, for example, are doctors of internal medicine who subspecialize in diseases of the heart.1
1. American College of Physicians. 2011-07-28. URL:http://www.acponline.org/patients_families/about_internal_medicine/. Accessed: 2011-07-28.