With over 120 kinds of medical specialties and subspecialties, it can sometimes be confusing to choose which doctor can provide you with the best possible healthcare. 

Should you experience problems with your heart, kidney, liver, or lungs, for example, then you may benefit from the services of an internal medicine doctor. Also known as internists, internal medicine doctors are physicians who diagnose and treat many ailments that center around the body’s internal organs. These specialists often come across various complications arising from different conditions and need to be adept at looking at these overlaps to decide the best possible course of treatment. 

If you’re on the fence about seeing an internal medicine doctor or are just curious about what they do, then here are four facts that you may not know about internal medicine: 

Internal medicine began in Germany 

The term internal medicine comes from the German term Innere Medizin. Internal medicine arrived in the United States through American physicians who studied in Germany and other parts of Europe—areas where the medical practice was more advanced than in North America. While training, these physicians adopted the German medical tradition and its name and used it in the USA. 

One such physician was William Osler, credited as the one responsible for developing internal medicine as a medical discipline in North America. 

Internal medicine was among the first practices to use the science-based treatment

Among the many groundbreaking practices of internal medicine at the time was combining laboratory investigations and bedside clinical assessments. While this may seem like a common practice today, this was actually not very common in the 1800s. 

Most doctors either did their work purely by laboratory studies, while others concentrated on bedside procedures but lacking formal training in scientific diagnosis and treatment methods. Many of such physicians used untested theories and often prescribed questionable treatment due to the lack of scientific basis. 

Internal medicine’s integration of scientific ideology with the emphasis of patient care revolutionized the field of medicine as we know it today, improving healthcare for the people in the United States. 

Internal medicine doctors are not family doctors 

Being both primary care doctors, both internists and family medicine doctors treat many of the same diseases and conditions. The difference generally lies with the approach and who they can treat. 

Doctors of internal medicine primarily see adults aged 18 years and above. Internists receive training that cuts across many disciplines and use that knowledge to treat complications resulting from multiple diseases or conditions. 

Many internists find themselves treating chronic diseases common in aging patients, such as diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and endocrine issues. 

On the other hand, family doctors are trained to treat patients of all ages and receive a much more broad medical education. While internists receive in-depth training in treating internal organs’ ailments, family doctors focus on outpatient medicine, health maintenance, and disease prevention. 

Some internal medicine doctors are also specialists in other fields 

Aside from the three-year residency program to become a doctor of internal medicine, many internists opt to train in an additional subspecialty. Some of the internists’ subspecialties are neurology, endocrinology, oncology, psychiatry, dermatology, cardiology, geriatrics, and rheumatology. 

Internists who wish to treat children may get additional pediatrics training. 


If you’re in doubt about seeing an internal doctor—don’t be. As primary care physicians, internists are trained to diagnose and treat many kinds of ailments. If you or someone you know is suffering from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or chronic lung disease, then an internist is the right doctor for you. 

If you’re looking for primary care doctors in North Bergen, New Jersey, Garden State Medical Group has you covered. Our doctors Kamalesh Shah, MD, and Tanmay Gosalia, DO, are board-certified physicians and practice a multidisciplinary approach to treating our patients. Connect with us and start a telemedicine call now to learn more about our services!

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