There seems to be lot of confusion on what is an Internal Medicine doctor and how different they are from a GP or Family Physician. As an Internal Medicine doctor, I want to shed some light on how we are different.
An Internal Medicine doctor is also called an Internist or a Physician; he is not a General Practitioner (GP). Unlike a GP, an Internist usually spends around three to four years after medical school in a residency program to get the training that allows him/her to apply for a board examination, regardless of the board: American, British, Arab, Jordanian, Etc.
Think of Internal Medicine as the Godfather of Medicine. Everything from head to toe.
Everyone has heard of the primary physician or the family medicine doctor. Unfortunately, in many areas of the world, like Qatar, there is a huge shortage of family medicine doctors and so the internist is the one who you should seek for advice when managing health or when a referral is needed.
An internist should be your first point of contact when you feel sick. Even if you think you will need to see a specialist, let your internist see you first, and they will then give you a referral, if need be.
Internists usually provide primary care to men and women ages 18 and up.
- Chronic and recurrent bowel disorders
- Respiratory diseases
- Nutritional advice
- Obesity control
In addition to those, Internists should be able to communicate, diagnose, investigate and treat both simple and complicated cases in different subspecialty lines ‘Cardiology, Pulmonary, Gastroenterology, Rheumatology, Oncology and Others’. He/she should be able to refer a patient whenever needed.
A huge part of their role is to educate their patients. Their job is to provide information and guidance on how to stay healthy or manage chronic conditions. So make sure to ask your Internists lots of questions.
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