February 17, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
An internist is a physician who specialises in internal medicine. These medical practitioners care for patients from the time of birth till the time of death. Remember the doctor who lived around the corner that everyone visited when they were ill? That doctor would be an internist.
Internists provide long-term comprehensive care for patients across all ages, from newborns and toddlers to teenagers and the elderly and diagnose a wide range of ailments, from the common cold to cancer.
An internist is a primary care provider. Patients visit them when something is wrong and the internist then decides if they need to be referred to a specialist depending on the symptoms.
If you want to practice as an internist, you will first need to successfully complete a 4 or 5 year medical school course. After that, you will have to get into an intensive residency program that will last for another three years. After you’ve completed your residency programme, you can then choose the appropriate fellowship programme, which will involve another 1 to 3 years of training.
Once you have finished your training period, you will need to sit for a licensing examination, which gives you the licence to practice internal medicine.
You can choose to specialise further within this field. Some of the sub-specialties in internal medicine include:
Internists can choose to have their own private practice or they can attach themselves to a hospital. If you choose to work through private practice, part of your responsibility would include visiting your patients in whichever hospital they are in should they require any extended treatment.
Internists who choose to practice as hospitalists have slightly easier schedules as the need to visit patients in different hospitals does not arise. Patients are usually referred to specialists and treated within the same hospital.
Most doctors in this field work for four to five days a week during the regular office timings. Some doctors may also have to work overtime along with other multidisciplinary teams if they are working in a hospital or they may have to be on-call for certain patients. Even though most Internal Medicine doctors work in an out-patient setting, they may need to accompany certain patients to a hospital when necessary.
One of the biggest appeals of this specialty is that you get the opportunity to build a personal relationship with your patients. As an internist, you will usually treat the same patients for years and will watch them pass through the various stages of their lives. You will also become acquainted with entire families who visit you for consultations. Very often, internists are considered part of the family and hold a very special place within most families that they treat.
This is a great field for anyone who loves to bond with and cultivate long-term relations with their patients. Very few other specialties offer you this wonderful opportunity to do so.