What Is Internal Medicine?
A doctor specializing in Internal Medicine focuses on adult medical care. Internal medicine specialists, or internists, are specialized primary care providers that focus on adult and geriatric medicine. Internists see patients with a wide variety of problems – from chronic diseases to more complex cases. They also educate patients on overall wellness, including disease prevention, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, women’s health, mental health, and treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.
What Do Internists Do?
Internists care for adult primary care needs. This includes, but is not limited to, diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, heart disease, and all other organ abnormalities.
When Should I See an Internist?
Typically all adults should have an internist, with an adult being defined as anyone 18 years and older. Internists see chronic health issues as well as acute needs when injury or illnesses happen suddenly.
What Is the Difference Between a Family Medicine Doctor and an Internist?
Family medicine doctors frequently see pediatric patients and some even deliver babies. Family doctors have a basic training in adult medicine, but internists are adult medicine specialists who care for complicated medical issues in adults only.
Family doctors and internal medicine doctors become primary care physicians for patients. You need to establish a primary care physician who will be able to take care of any emergencies and follow up with your health concerns. Establishing a relationship with your primary care physician (PCP) is advised and necessary in order to have all of your medical needs met. Many insurance plans require referrals from your established PCP before they will cover visits from a specialist. This is starting to become common practice with insurance companies, so even if you do not currently have that requirement with your plan it would be wise to establish with a family doctor or internal medicine doctor now in order to avoid any conflict or headache in the future.
Article Contributor: Justin W. Mansfield, M.D.