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What is an internist?

An internist is a physician who specializes in internal medicine, which broadly refers to conditions affecting the internal organs. Internists are trained in all aspects of adult medical care, with a particular focus on complex and multisystem diseases. 

Internists can focus their practice on general internal medicine or specialize in a specific area such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Infectious disease
  • Nephrology
  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Rheumatology   

Why are internists important in healthcare?

Internists can diagnose and treat a broad range of conditions and routinely see patients with chronic diseases. When diseases become complex, internists often coordinate patient care with other specialists.

Internists care for patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings and may be involved in teaching and research. Because internal medicine patients are often very ill, internists also do much of their work in hospitals.