An internal medicine group typically includes a team of doctors specializing in internal medicine who work together in a single office or clinic. They diagnose and treat adult illnesses and disorders of internal organs. Physicians in an internal medicine group might serve as primary care doctors capable of treating patients throughout their lives. These internists might specialize in one of 13 subspecialties and often work as consultants for other doctors.
A doctor working in an internal medicine group typically receives training and schooling to diagnose complex health problems that might be linked to other conditions. The internist understands functioning of internal organs and how dysfunction causes disease. This type of physician does not perform surgery, but works with surgeons or other specialists to treat patients.
General internists might be doctors of medicine or osteopathic doctors. Osteopathic physicians deal with diseases of the bone, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. These doctors commonly take a holistic approach to treating patients and focus on preventative medicine.
A cardiologist working in an internal medicine group treats problems affecting the heart and cardiovascular system. Patients with heart or blood vessel disorders might be treated with drugs or surgery. Preventative medicine is typically incorporated into an internist’s practice. The doctor might suggest lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Some internal medicine groups provide smoking cessation programs to lower risks of cardiovascular disease.
One of the subspecialties of internal medicine involves care of the elderly, called geriatrics. Older patients might suffer from more than one condition, combined with declines in cognitive abilities from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A geriatric internist typically evaluates various health problems to determine the best treatment option. He or she usually looks at medications taken for each disorder to prevent adverse reactions from multiple drugs.
An internal medicine group might also employ a doctor trained in endocrinology. This specialist treats problems with glands and tissues that produce hormones and secrete other chemicals, which regulate bodily functions. An endocrinologist might treat diabetes, infertility, and thyroid problems. He or she might also work closely with a cardiologist because diabetes increases the risk of inflamed blood vessels, where plaque might form.
Other physicians in the group might specialize in kidney function, cancer, the intestinal tract, or blood disorders. Some internists diagnose and treat pulmonary disorders related to the lungs. Doctors working in an internal medicine group typically receive an additional one to three years of training and schooling in their specialty.