General Internal Medicine is a term that is most commonly used with the professions of clinical pharmacy and veterinary medicine that refers to any attempt to cure or prevent disease in adults. Therefore, the term “internal medicine,” is a slightly misleading title as it does not always refer to medicine that acts internally, that being, within the patients body (thought this is usually the case). Those who specialise in internal medicine are typicall physicians who are then refered to as internal specialists. These individuals generally have a very specialized knowledge of bodily diseases and how they affect specific organs.
History of Terminology
Historically, the originas of internal medicine have their roots in the ancient east, specifically in India and China. They were most likely derived from the famed Ayurvedic practices which were widely popular in the ancient world. More recently, however, the first usage of internal medicine came about in 19th Century Germany from the german, Innere Medizin. Because many of the practices and terminologies of modern day medicine were appropriated in Germany by Americas 20th Century doctors much confusion surrouned (and to some extent still surrounds) the usage of terms. A common mistake that is made is in equating a internist with a intern. The internal specialist is a medical specialist with a heavy background in preventative disease whilst the intern is someone who has completed medical school but is still in training and hasn’t yet obtained their medical license, in other words, not a specialist.
Subspecialities and Practices
Contained with the field of internal medicine are a wide array of subspecialities. Knowing these subspecialities, as well as which organizations recognize and practice them, is key to getting the right treatment. Generally they are as follows for all practitioners of internal medicine, including but not limited to:
- adolescent medicine
- allergy treatment
- critical care
- geriatic medicine
- infectious disease
- sleep medicine
There are of course many more subsets of speciality in the field but for the sake of brevity we leave them here. Also of note is the fact that different medical organizations have different standards for measuring what is and is not a subset of the field.