There are over a hundred medical specialties and subspecialties, and it might be confusing to pick one. Amongst them all, internal medicine offers comprehensive healthcare services to its patients. If you are confused between a doctor of internal medicine in Michigan or another specialist, read on to clear the doubt.
What is Internal Medicine?
Internal medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various diseases. It focuses on patients above 18 years of age. However, a physician who specializes in internal medicine is known as an internist. The trained practitioners are proficient in primary healthcare, general health status evaluation, and treatment of complex diseases and disorders. They also look after the onset of potential diseases in patients that are at risk for their development.
What Training Do Internal Medicine Doctors Require?
Internists pick internal medicine as a part of their medical specialty. Then, they move on to complete a three-year residency program before they begin their practice. Furthermore, internists may also choose to additionally train in subspecialties like neurology, pulmonology, cardiology, oncology, endocrinology, and others. This renders them more versed in their profession and expands their scope of work.
Since they practice in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including critically hospitalized patients – internists are experienced to handle complex diseases. Their expertise renders them capable of treating crucial medical diseases and disorders. Moreover, they also possess profound knowledge regarding an array of adult diseases, irrespective of their stage of progression.
What Are Some Conditions That Internists Treat?
An internist is not limited to patient demographic, organ, or organ system. Following are the conditions, in which internal medicine doctors are skilled to provide treatment,
An internist can diagnose and manage common allergic conditions such as sinusitis, pharyngitis, and skin allergies. Furthermore, they also conduct rhinoscopy for a better evaluation of the nose, throat, and airways.
While it is recommended to visit a cardiologist for matters concerning the cardiovascular system, you can also see an internist in case of mild to moderate conditions. From common medical conditions such as hypertension to complicated ones like:
- Acute decompensated heart failure
- Acute myocardial infarction
- Cardiac arrest
- Cardiogenic shock complicating acute myocardial infarction
- Failed fibrinolysis (thrombolysis) or threatened reocclusion in acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction
- Myopericardial disease
- Narrow QRS complex tachycardias
- New-onset atrial fibrillation
- Non-sustained ventricular tachycardia
An internist can solely manage these conditions or work together with a cardiac specialist to prevent further complications.
Since an internal medicine doctor is trained in the pulmonary subspecialty, they can expertly diagnose, manage and treat pulmonary conditions related to the lungs, airways, thoracic cavity, and chest wall.
You can visit an internist for minor orthopedic ailments such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. The physician may recommend an X-ray or MRI for better screening of the bone condition.
Endocrine, glandular, and metabolic disorders
It is not always necessary to visit an endocrinologist when you can talk to your internal medicine doctor regarding your condition. The primary care provider is proficient to treat endocrine disorders such as hyper or hypothyroidism and diabetes. They provide hyperglycemic drugs that amplify insulin production or its efficacy. The drugs may also work by slowing down the absorption of glucose from the gastrointestinal tract.
Also Read: 5 Easy Ways To Manage High Blood Pressure
The physician looks after conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), intestinal and duodenal ulcers, acute and chronic constipation, and diarrhea.
In addition, men and women can schedule an appointment with their internal medicine doctor for
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),
- And erectile dysfunction for men
- Reproductive disorders for women
An internist can also treat matters concerning the urinary system as such urinary tract infections, urinary inconsistency, and kidney stones.
Physiological concerns, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Critical care medicine
Internal medicine doctors are subjected to a year-long service to hospitalized patients, out of which, they dedicate 3 months to the intensive/critical care units. Therefore, they are skilled to provide pulmonary and cardiac assistance to critical care patients.
Can Internists Perform Medical Procedures?
Internists are trained to perform critical invasive procedures that act as effective diagnostic and therapeutic tools. These include thoracentesis i.e. the procedure to remove fluid from around the lungs. The physician puts a needle through the chest wall in the pleural space and sucks the fluid out. In addition, they also perform lumbar puncture and paracentesis to remove fluid from the lower back and abdomen respectively.
Furthermore, the following are some medical treatments that are effectively performed by an internist, categorized according to organ system:
- Allergy: Internists perform skin testing and rhinoscopy to determine the cause of the allergic reactions.
- Cardiology: cardiac stress testing, echocardiograms, coronary catheterization, angioplasty, stent and pacemaker insertion, electrophysiology testing, and ablation.
- Endocrinology: includes biopsy of thyroid, dynamic hormone testing, bone density testing
- Gastroenterology: Upper and lower endoscopy, esophageal manometry, endoscopic, retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), stent insertion, endoscopic ultrasound, liver biopsy.
- Hematology/oncology: bone marrow biopsy, stem cell transplant, lymph node biopsy. plasmapheresis
- Pulmonary: intubation, ventilator management, bronchoscopy, chest tube thoracostomy, tracheostomy placement
- Renal: Kidney biopsy, dialysis
- Rheumatology Joint aspiration and therapeutic injection
Furthermore, internal medicine employs ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to facilitate invasive procedures. The medical specialty also relies upon flexible fiberoptic instruments to reach hard-to-access areas of the body.
Invasive Procedures that an Internist Can Perform
- Venipuncture to draw blood
- Arterial puncture for blood gases evaluation
- IV line insertion
- Placement of urinary catheters and NG tub
Internists are well versed to perform a variety of invasive and non-invasive procedures that account for diagnostic and treatment tools. They ensure their patient’s well-being by making timely decisions that help them in the longer run.
What Is The Difference Between Family Doctors and Internal Medicine Doctors?
While a family physician looks after the entire family, i.e. from birth to 100
A family physician provides healthcare to the entire family, regardless of their age i.e. from birth to 100+. On the other hand, an internal medicine doctor focuses on patients from age 18 years and above.
For Internal medicine physicians, the expertise lies in the diagnosis of an array of diseases that are common in adults. However, a family medicine practitioner offers whole-person care that is rather focused on sustainable care, health maintenance, and disease prevention.
Internists take up internal medicine as their medical specialty and are required to complete a three-year residency program before they could commence their internal medicine practice. However, some internists may also take up additional training in subspecialties such as neurology, cardiology, oncology, endocrinology, and other related medical fields.
A family medicine doctor completes a three-year residency program, after the completion of medical school. The residence program includes training in:
- Pediatric medicine
- Internal medicine
- Emergency medicine
- Urology, and more
Internists are much experienced to treat complex medical diseases and disorders. Moreover, they possess profound knowledge regarding a broad spectrum of adult diseases, irrespective of their stage of progression. On the contrary, family medicine practitioners are more oriented toward promoting the well-being of their patients.
Internists work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including patients hospitalized in intensive and critical units. On the other hand, Family physicians focus more on preventive medicine in an outpatient facility.