Types of Internal Medicine: The Basics

Types of Internal Medicine: The Basics

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Internal medicine is a rather broad area of practice that includes many subspecialties. Whether you’re just starting a residency or have been working as a physician for years, it is useful to learn about the types of internal medicine. Chances are high that you’ve interacted or consulted with one of these specialties, so it’s important to fully understand their role as a physician. Whether you’re considering taking on a new role in internal medicine, or just curious about their job responsibilities – you’ve come to the right place! Let’s explore the types of internal medicine.

Generally speaking, internal medicine doctors, often called internists, diagnose and treat many diseases and illnesses affecting patients. At times, internal medicine is also referred to as general medicine due to this wide-reaching area of practice. They routinely see patients with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other internal diseases.

How does one get into internal medicine? Well, after earning a four-year undergraduate degree and graduating from medical school, internal medicine professionals enter their residency. Students are required to complete a 3-year internal medicine residency program. Students can then choose to continue to specialize in an internal medicine subspecialty, which often require an additional 1-3 years of training. Usually, after a one-year internship and three years working as an internal medicine resident, physicians take a written and oral exam to become board certified in internal medicine.

Now that you know exactly how to become an internist, let’s explore the subspecialities of internal medicine. There are many subspecialties to choose from, so let’s get right into exploring the types of internal medicine!

types of internal medicine

Types of Internal Medicine Subspecialties


The first internal medicine subspecialties we’ll discuss is oncology. Oncologists work with general internists to identify and diagnose forms of cancer. The responsibilities of these physicians vary depending on the setting. Those working directly with patients provide diagnosis and treatment plans. Treatment plans may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other methods used to treat this disease. Oncologists often work with other physicians to provide expert consultations. It is also common for oncologists to engage in clinical research. Educating patients about their specific disease, while providing emotional support is a key element for a physician in this role.

types of internal medicine

Pulmonary Medicine

Another one of the top internal medicine subspecialties to consider is pulmonology medicine. This specialty focuses on the diseases affecting the respiratory system. They are responsible for helping patients manage difficult and complicated pulmonary diseases. Things commonly seen by pulmonologists include; asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and tuberculosis. Since these diseases are common, pulmonologist physician jobs are in high demand. Internal medicine physicians specializing in pulmonology diagnose and treat a variety of diseases. They also help their patients manage their diseases, as these are often long-term cases.


This internal medicine subspecialty focuses on identifying and treating disorders in the gastrointestinal track. There are many organs that fall under a GI doctors expertise, including; esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, and pancreas. This subspecialty often requires additional training in nutrition to fully be able to understand the gastrointestinal track. Common health issues you’ll encounter are reflux disease, ulcers, colitis, or Crohn’s disease. While specialists in this area do not perform surgeries, they do perform procedures like endoscopies to examine the intestines. Becoming board certified in gastroenterology requires a two to three-year fellowship following an internal medicine residency.


While no two patients are exactly alike, it’s often the case that older patients come with their own unique concerns in terms of internal medicine. Geriatric physician jobs deal with the health and well-being of older adults. A major part of a geriatrician’s job is identifying specific conditions that come with age. This often includes health issues like dementia, strokes, and other sensory impairments. The goal for most geriatricians is to identify health concerns early and implement practical treatment plans that will improve quality of life. Becoming a geriatric specialist includes training covering the legal, ethical, and psychosocial needs relevant to elderly patients.

types of internal medicine


With over 100 different diseases affecting the joints and muscles, jobs in rheumatology comprise another major internal medicine subspecialty. Professionals in this field work to treat conditions like osteoporosis, gout, vasculitis, inflammatory muscle disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, patients with lupus, certain types of back pain, and fibromyalgia may also seek the care of a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists treat a wide variety of patients with a mix of different diseases. Once they can determine the severity and type of someone’s disease, then treatment, education, and further prevention can begin.

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine mainly focuses on the treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries. Athletes endure a lot of physical strain throughout their career. This is where sports medicine physicians come in! They work closely with athletes to help prevent injury. They also work to treat and rehabilitate those that have suffered an injury. Often these physicians work directly with a sport or team.


The last of our internal medicine subspecialties is cardiology. Cardiovascular disease affects nearly half of the U.S. adult population, making it an in-demand internal medicine specialty. The main focus for cardiologists is the prevention, diagnosis, and management of their patients with cardiovascular diseases. Common diseases that are treated include coronary artery disease and congenital heart disease. Heart issues can be extremely life threatening, which makes these physicians essential. Embarking in this subspecialty means you’ll order and perform a variety of diagnostic tests — things such as echocardiograms, exercise stress tests, and even cardiac catheterizations. These jobs require a minimum of a three-year fellowship in cardiology after becoming an internist.

types of internal medicine

No matter which type of internal medicine subspecialties you decide to work toward, LocumJobsOnline.com is here to provide the very best job opportunities for professional advancement!

Which types of internal medicine piqued your interest? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Locum Jobs Online

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