Internal Medicine

July 16, 2013

Internal medicine deals with diagnosing, treating and caring for adults across a spectrum of health conditions, from general health to complex illnesses. A doctor who specialises in adult health care is called an Internist. Internal medicine spans ambulatory care settings as well as acute hospital settings and deals with all types of adult health problems no matter how commonplace or how complex.  

Clearing Up Some Common Misconceptions Surrounding Internists

Although internists act as primary care physicians, they are not general practitioners or family physicians. The difference between the two is that Internists focus solely on health conditions in adults, from their teen years through to old age, whereas training for general practitioners includes paediatrics, obstetrics and surgery as well.

An Internist can also be called a ‘Doctor of Internal Medicine’ or a ‘General Internist’. This is quite different from an ‘Intern’ who is essentially a trainee just out of medical school. 

Watching surgery during a Gap Medics Medical Work Experience placement

The Training Program 

The Internal medicine training program in Australia is conducted by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP). It takes a minimum of 6 years to complete, of which three years are dedicated to learning how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults.

 -Basic training of three years

-Clinical as well as written college exams

-3+ years of advanced training

The aim of this training is the development of a physician who is competent enough to provide comprehensive, unsupervised medical care at a consultant level, in the internal medicine sub-specialities. Interestingly, Internists are often called the “doctor’s doctor” because they are often called upon to act as consultants to other physicians to help solve puzzling diagnostic problems.



The basic prospective training program is called the ‘Physician Readiness for Expert Practice’ Program or the PREP program. All trainees start off as a Basic Trainee and then transition to advanced training. There is no way of moving directly into advanced training.

In order to be eligible for this program you will have to meet these criteria:

 -Must possess a medical degree.

-Intern year completion is mandatory. This is (post MBBS/MBChB), the first post-graduate year.

-Should be appointed to any accredited hospital for basic physician training.

-Should have discussed with the concerned DPE or Director of Physician/Paediatrics Education about application for the program.

-Starting January 2013 all IMG’s or International Medical Graduates who wish to enter any of the training programs run by Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) will have to first complete the AMC or the Australian Medical Council Certificate.

If this is a medical discipline you think you’d like to pursue but are not quite sure, it is good idea to spend some time doing an overseas placement that focuses on adult health care so you can know for sure if this medical stream is for you. It is definitely far better than studying Internal Medicine for three years and then finding out that you are not really as interested in it as you thought you’d be.

Take a look at Gap Medics pre-medical placements, where you will have the opportunity to complete work experience in the Internal Medicine department of our overseas partner hospitals. Just click HERE.