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Internal Medicine Career

Career Description

An Internist diagnoses and provides non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. Provides care mainly for adults who have a wide range of problems associated with the internal organs.

Common Work Tasks

  • Diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a wide range of problems that affect internal organ systems, such as the stomach,  kidneys, liver, and digestive tract
  • Treat patients referred from other specialists and  refer patients to other specialists when more complex care is required
  • Analyze records, reports, test results, or examination information to diagnose medical condition of patient
  • Prescribe or administer medication, therapy, and other specialized medical care to treat or prevent illness, disease, or injury
  • Provide and manage long-term, comprehensive medical care, including diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of diseases, for adult patients in an office or hospital
  • Manage and treat common health problems, such as infections, influenza and pneumonia, as well as serious, chronic, and complex illnesses, in adolescents, adults, and the elderly
  • Monitor patients’ conditions and progress and reevaluate treatments as necessary
  • Collect, record, and maintain patient information, such as medical history, reports, and examination results
  • Make diagnoses when different illnesses occur together or in situations where the diagnosis may be obscure
  • Explain procedures and discuss test results or prescribed treatments with patients

Other Job Titles

Internists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Surgeons
  • Doctors
  • Physicians
  • Medical Practitioners

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
The common path to practicing as a physician requires 8 years of education beyond high school and 3 to 8 additional years of internship and residency.

Certification and Licensure
All States,  the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories license physicians. To be licensed, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a licensing examination, and complete 1 to 7 years of graduate medical education.  Although physicians licensed in one State usually can get a license to practice in another without further examination, some States limit reciprocity.  Graduates of foreign medical schools generally can qualify for licensure after passing an examination and completing a U.S. residency.

  People who wish to become physicians must have a desire to serve patients, be self-motivated, and be able to survive the pressures and long hours of medical education and practice. Physicians also must have a good bedside manner,  emotional stability, and the ability to make decisions in emergencies.  Prospective physicians must be willing to study throughout their career to keep up with medical advances.


The median annual salary for an Internist is $145,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $200,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $90,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of internists are:

  • Offices of Physicians - $173,390
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $150,300
  • Outpatient Care Centers - $166,450
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $102,880
  • Home Health Care Services - $165,840

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  14%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 90,000
  • Employment 2006 : 633,000
  • Employment 2016:  723,000
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