You may have heard or seen the term internist, but could you decipher what this category of doctors does? Do you know what differentiates them from the regular physicians? If you are not sure, and you are living with a health issue such as hypertension or diabetes that needs management, then this article can help you learn who internists are and the services they provide.
What is an internist?
An internist is a physician with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of adults. They are sometimes called a general internist or physician of internal medicine. These doctors provide extensive, comprehensive treatment and can handle regular and complicated diseases. An internist can also function as a primary care doctor or as a medical consultant to other medical experts. Many internists take part in training and research programs.
Internists can work as a complete medical care provider in a private practice such as an office or clinic. They also work at hospitals and in nursing or elderly homes. They do not perform surgical procedures. They sometimes work with other specialists to coordinate and supervise treatment.
Internists usually serve as personal doctors and form lasting relationships with their patients. They can run tests, make a diagnosis, treat both common ailments and chronic diseases, and offer advice or consultancy on disease prevention and mental health. Internists recommend and provide immunizations, treatments and drugs.
Internists are experts in handling diseases related to internal organs like the heart, kidney, lungs and liver. They understand how these organs work and can recommend proper management practices. Internists work with diabetic patients since lack of adequate management can have negative impacts on other organs.
There is a link between diabetes and illnesses such as hypertension and raised cholesterol. The duties of the internist can be considered gatekeeping, requiring them to check the patient’s body and treat chronic diseases.
What sets an internist apart?
You may be wondering, like many people, the main difference between an internal medicine doctor and a family practice doctor. Even though the two serve a similar role as a primary caregiver for many people by conducting examinations and health supervision, they are different.
The primary difference is that family care covers a larger patient population than internal medicine. Family care doctors handle the general health and wellbeing of people of all ages, including children. They also render gynecological services to female patients. Internists usually have comprehensive knowledge of internal organs and internal processes, and they only care for adults.
When a disease worsens, an internist will reach out to specialists with the proper skills to help the patients. For example, they may work hand-in-hand with neurologists, pulmonologists and oncologists for solutions.
Internists interact more with the older population. They help with chronic diseases such as hypertension, kidney diseases and high cholesterol. Internists also work on blood disorders, COPD, heart diseases and some infectious diseases. Aging causes some chronic diseases, which means internists’ patients usually belong to the geriatric category.
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