The medical field is evolving so quickly that there are new types of doctors being created every day- such as neonatologists (doctors who specialize in caring for newborns), hematologists (who focus on blood disorders), and hand surgeons (who diagnose and treat injuries to hands). Doctors also differ depending on their work setting; those who work in hospitals or clinics may not be the same as those who work at private practices. But for today, we are going to discuss doctors of internal medicine

There are so many types of doctors because the profession of “doctor” is actually an extensive-term. Each type specializes in a specific area and performs different procedures or diagnoses. Your human body is that complex.

What Is A Doctor Of Internal Medicine?

A Doctor of Internal Medicine (or simply an internist) is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and managing diseases that affect the human body’s internal organs. They have extensive knowledge across the spectrum of simple to complex illnesses. Internists also specialize in accurately diagnosing conditions that may seem to have puzzling symptoms. 

Internists are sometimes referred to as “general physicians” or “adult physicians,” because they can care for patients of any age. They are also the ones that frequently promote nutrition and disease prevention. 

Internists typically receive their education in the medical school curriculum known as Internal Medicine Residency Training, usually following upon completion of the Medical Doctor degree (MD).

They Are Not Surgeons

While there are many doctors, not all of them can perform surgeries. 

Internists focus only on diagnosing and treating diseases that affect the internal organs. They only perform surgeries when the need is very desperate and on the spot. While they may have extensive knowledge of the human body and medicine, they are very unlikely to conduct surgeries.

If there’s a surgeon available, they will pass on the emergency to them. 

On the other hand, surgeons diagnose and treat problems that affect external or visible parts of the body such as skin, muscles, bones, etc. They also perform surgeries as a first resort.

Internists Are Not Interns

Do not mistake Internists as interns as most people often do. Interns are the new guys around the hospital, while Internists are simply a shortcut for doctors of internal medicine. Suffice to say, Internists have experience, and they handle and teach the interns.

Interns are usually doctors who have just graduated medical school and are not yet certified to practice independently. Interns typically start their careers in hospitals or clinics where they mostly assist doctors with other specialties. Internships can last up to 3 years, so some confuse internships with internal medicine programs.

An internship is a prerequisite for a medical degree—an internship is not there to replace the MD but to teach the intern what a physician does. It bridges the gap between academia and real-life experience. 

The interns work with resident physicians and attend lectures, conferences, and clinical experiences. They do not need to be licensed doctors yet because they are not working directly in patient care yet. 

What Does An Internist DO?

Most internists usually work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other related facilities. Some of them may also be working in private practice where they see patients on a one-to-one basis. Since chronic illnesses are one of the most common health conditions, they are almost always are preoccupied with handling them. 

Any illness that is involved with internal organs is their specialty. A lot of these illnesses typically last a long time, so they are often the ones who foster a long relationship with their patients. 

Internists can also pursue subspecialties, and the number of them opting for a subspecialty has increased in recent years. There are several reasons why an internist might choose to pursue a subspecialty, including the following:

They are still internists, but they are also specialists in their specific areas. However, that will require them to undergo several more years of training. 

What Does It Take To Become An Internist?

The requirement to become a doctor of internal medicine is not only difficult to achieve, but it will take years to accomplish. 

To become an internist, they need to complete a medical degree from an accredited university, complete a residency program in internal medicine, and pass the certification examination offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada—at least in North America. 

Getting the bachelor’s degree itself will take four or more years to accomplish. Plus, they also need three to seven years in internship and residency programs. That’s at least seven years minimum and a decade at maximum! 

Pursuing a specialized role is sure to guarantee a decade. That’s how much it takes to become a doctor of internal medicine. 

What’s The Difference Between Family Physician And Internists?

Family physicians have undergone studies and training to treat various medical problems. They can diagnose and treat many common illnesses. On the other hand, Internists have more specialized training in internal medicine and can diagnose and treat a broader range of medical problems.

Family physicians are all-around doctors whose specialty is to take care of people across the lifespan from birth through the senior years. Their training is very general, focusing on family wellness, disease prevention, and chronic disease management. 

Meanwhile, internists are leaning more towards treating illnesses that typically affect adults. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. They are more specialized in adult health-related concerns than family physicians.


When checking your overall health welfare, you need to turn to internists. They specialize better when handling general adult health welfare and chronic illnesses.

If you want a doctor of internal medicine to check up on you, be sure to reach out to Prestige Physicians. They offer a wide range of services that includes bariatric and aesthetic medicines. Their team strives to make their clients meet their goals and achieve the highest quality of life. 

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