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What is general internal medicine?

General internal medicine is a vast field. It is a medical specialty that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of acute or chronic adult diseases.

The term "internal medicine" was adopted in the U.S. from the German term "Innere Medizin" dating from the late 19th century. This term described a field of medicine where physicians combined physical examination, laboratory tests with the care and treatment of patients. In the early 20th century many doctors in the U.S. studied medicine in Germany and brought this medical field in their country.

Doctors specialized in internal medicine are called internists and care for ambulatory and hospitalized patients. However, internists do much of their work in hospitals because internal medicine patients with serious acute illnesses or chronic diseases often require complex investigations.

The Subspecialties of Internal Medicine

Internists are trained to diagnose and treat complex or multisystem diseases and often have subspecialty training in diseases affecting particular organ systems. Subspecialties of internal medicine include:

  • Allergy and immunology
  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Nephrology
  • Pulmonology
  • Endocrinology 
  • Hematology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Rheumatology
  • Oncology

Internists often consult with doctors in other fields of medicine. They are well trained to administer vaccinations, perform medical exams, diagnose and prescribe treatments. Internal medicine physicians also specialize in health promotion and disease prevention.

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Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/