The term internal medicine refers to diagnosis and treating of adult diseases. Internal medicine is a medical specialty based on clinical research. It is not concerned with treating of internal body organs as the name suggests; it is primarily concerned with looking inside a clinical problem and arriving at solution after experimenting. Internal medicine leaves no room for unproven beliefs about certain diseases. It is a practical discipline. In its initial stages of development, internal medicine practitioners were to spend 10 to 15 years in a hospital (not a lecture hall) holding at least fifty beds. The practitioners are known as internist- not interns. Internists used to be advisors to general physicians, and matters such as methods to lower cholesterol to ensure a healthy life was one of their areas of concern. Internists are sometimes referred to as adult pediatricians.
THE HISTORY OF INTERNAL MEDICINE
Internal medicine dates back to 1885 when the Association of American Physicians (AAP) was formed. It was from AAP that the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) was formed. Clinical investigation forms the base of internal medicine. Dr. William Osler, the president of AAP in 1895, is the father of internal medicine. He was the first person to use the term “internal medicine” on record. He wrote a detailed essay of what internal medicine was to be like. The term internal medicine was derived from a German term “innere Medizin”. Dr. Osler laid down the core areas internal medicine practitioners were to concentrate on. The areas put forward focused on exposing internists to practical experience. They included:
- Morbid anatomy
- Hospital laboratories
Internal medicine gained power after the successful establishment of the American College of Physicians, which provided a platform for internists.
INTERNAL MEDICINE TODAY
Internal medicine focuses on curing adult diseases. Advancements in technology have led to development of methods such as Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMFT). PEMF treatment is a technique used to treat non-union fractures, whereby pulsed magnetic fields are directed through injured tissue to stimulate cellular repair.
Stem cells therapy is another method arrived at using experiment. Stem cells are cells originating from bone marrow, embryos and other sources. All cells with specialized functions are generated from stem cells. In their therapy, stem cells are used to prevent certain conditions.
Presently, sub-specialties have been developed in internal medicine, such that internists can address specific clinical issues.