What is internal medicine?
According to the American College of Physicians, internal medicine is a science that represents the best of both worlds. The specialty combines the analytical examination of laboratory science with a personalized, compassionate approach to adult medicine. This expertise enables doctors to treat both common illnesses and complex medical conditions. They also specialize in treating long-term chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Doctors who specialize in internal medicine are called internists or general internists. Internal medicine specialists also take a close look at how all the systems in the body work together as a whole because a problem in one area could cause complications in another.
Why is it called internal medicine?
It comes from the German word innere medizin. In the 1800s, German physicians were incorporating knowledge from the sciences of bacteriology (study of bacteria), physiology (study of how the body functions) and pathology (the study of diseases) into their treatment plans. Physicians found the more they understood these subjects, the better equipped they were to help their patients.
They were called internal medicine doctors or internists because they focused on the "inner"" diseases instead of the external manifestations of those diseases.