What is a doctor of internal medicine (internist)?
James E. Loeffelholz, MD, FACP answered:
An internist is a doctor for adults—both in treating disease and keeping patients well. We are to grownups what pediatricians are to children. We are not interns (interns are doctors in their first year of training after medical school). Our training includes three additional residency years learning about adults and how to prevent, diagnose and treat illness in adults. As specialists in adult health care we care for our patients for life. Internists see patients—from teens through old age—in our offices or clinics. We also see patients
in hospitals and in nursing homes. We manage our patient’s care even when other doctors are involved. Other doctors often ask us for advice. And, if you ask enough physicians who their own doctor is, they’ll probably tell you they see an internist. Thus our nickname,“The Doctor’s Doctor.” Internal medicine is the foundation for subspecialty training in treating just one illness or one system. For example, a pulmonologist is a lung specialist, cardiologists treat heart disease and oncologists are internal medicine doctors who treat cancer.