When you first embark on a medical career, there seems to be no limit to the practice options available. Specializations such as cardiology, neurology and orthopedics gain much of the attention, of course. However, callings such as family practice and internal medicine, while less glamorous, are no less meaningful or important. Depending on who you are and how you want your professional life to look, internal medicine may be the ideal physician career for you.
If a career that involves long-term relationships, experience with a wide range of health care issues, and continuity of care appeals to you, then being an internist may be the right path for you. However, even if your goal is to specialize, internal medicine may still be a good fit if you’re unsure of which specialty to pursue. Practicing as an internist can provide you with multiple opportunities to help you make that choice. Cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases or pulmonology are among the specialties commonly entered by internal medicine physicians.
In addition, the American College of Physicians lists the following subspecialties that are available to internists upon completion of the requisite residency training:
Patients generally don’t understand that there is a difference between internists and family practitioners. Although both can serve as primary care providers, which one you want to be depends in part on who you want your patients to be. If you want to see “families” who present family problems, you’ll likely be providing health care to a large number of children during your time in practice. If, however, you prefer working with adults, than being an internist may be the better choice.
Although internal medicine is not a specialty per se, it still involves the diagnosis, care and treatment of certain diseases and medical conditions. These include such afflictions as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, kidney and liver disease, and substance abuse. Family practitioners, on the other hand, are sought after more for wellness checks and less serious medical problems.
In order to determine whether internal medicine is the right career for you, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
There are, of course, other factors to be considered. Regardless of which path you choose, be it specialization, family practice or internal medicine, your community will benefit from your dedication, training, and expertise. At the end of the day, isn’t that just what the doctor ordered?
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