When you decide to pursue a career in medicine, it’s usually met with one of two responses; what a wonderful way to make a difference, and how challenging it’s going to be. More often than not, both reactions come simultaneously. Well, we can’t say they didn’t warn us. Being a med student comes with an alarming plethora of responsibilities ranging from dissecting cadavers, research, and studying until you don’t know what day it is and mastering organic chemistry, to name a few while continuing to function in society. It is not easy! And it shouldn’t be. You’re being trained to handle high-stakes cases rooted in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, not to mention how often you’ll be dealing with life and death situations. This is the highest the stakes get! Despite the vast areas of expertise in medicine, with the required training, you’ll be able to judge your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to find the right specialty. For future doctors who value cultivating a long-lasting relationship with their patients, have plans to pursue cardiology or the treatment of infectious disease, a career in Internal Medicine might be the right fit!
Of the seven years spent in medical school and postgraduate training, three are dedicated to learning about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect adults. This basic training serves as the stepping-stones to making an Internal Medicine Physician or Internist. But what does being an Internist entail? We’ve put together a comprehensive look into the field of Internal Medicine and what a future Internist can expect! Let’s dive in:
What Is Internal Medicine?
In simple terms, it is a discipline rooted in the care of adults using the best medical science available, leading to the cultivation of long-term relationships with patients. Internists are responsible for a wide array of diseases ranging from acute conditions like sprains and the common cold to more chronic illnesses like heart failure.
Dr. Albert Fuchs, a practicing internist, describes his role as:
“When people ask me what I do, I say, ‘internal medicine, which is primary care for adults.’”
Based on the internal medicine definition, it is an expansive specialty encompassing both patients and cases; you could say that this is a field for those who prefer variety.
What Does An Internist Do?
Anything and everything! Now this may sound daunting to some, the idea of having to learn, know and practice in every field of medicine – since when did focusing on just one specialty go out of style – but to others, it’s a thrill! Imagine answering all of the above when it comes to choosing your specialty and you might just be a Future Internist. This doesn’t in any way mean that an Internal Medicine Physician is as equipped to deal with the intricacies of the human heart as a cardiologist, but internal medicine comes with the wisdom to recognize the need for a referral. It’s not that good internists can’t take care of a lot of problems without the need of a specialist, most patients are unsure of which specialist they need. Enter the internist to sort it out.
What Do You Need to Study?
All future doctors follow the same process for every specialty, starting from a four-year bachelor’s degree to a four-year medical degree. Medical school is evenly divided in completing basic science instruction classes and hands-on clinical rotation experience, working with patients and industry professionals.
By the end of the second year, med students start preparing for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 by the third or fourth year. All students are required to apply for a Postgraduate Internal Medicine Residency position which allows you to obtain a medical license lasting for approximately three years. During residency, the final USMLE test is completed leading to a board certification!
What you need to remember is: residency in Internal Medicine is imperative when it comes to pursuing further internal medicine subspecialties which require additional fellowship training in the field of your choice.
What Makes A Good Internist?
If ever there was a specialty that required a healthy mix of soft and hard skills, it’s internal medicine!
As per the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics, leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, physical stamina, and communication skills are very important. According to Dr. Fuchs, the last one is especially crucial for Internists.
“You need to listen to patients and understand how to gain their trust so they tell you what’s bothering them,” he explains.
Internal Medicine comes with a lifelong commitment to learning; it is called a practice after all. Another quality we can attribute to this field is the freedom to start your practice, in which case, business courses could come in handy.
What’s The Future For Internal Medicine Physicians?
Looking better and better every day! Internists and Family Doctors are among the most sought-after specialties in the US.
The annual AAMC study reports that demand for physicians will keep growing faster than the supply, largely due to the aging population and an expected 10.4% population growth from 2018 and 2033.
While the population under 18 counts for 3.9%, the older population, aged 65 and up, makes up a whopping 45.1% indicating the demand for physician specialties focused on elder care.
Ready To Pursue A Career In Internal Medicine?
Now that you know everything Internal Medicine entails, and it’s quite a lot, you are well equipped to pick the specialty that’s right for you!
Are you an IMG looking to pursue a career in Internal Medicine? We’ve got you covered! Our team at USDoctors.co is ready to guide you through the process and to answer any questions you might have.