Internal medicine is one of the most far-reaching or complex science in human medicine. Internists, or physicians, are dealing with general symptoms such as fatigue, sudden loss of weight, chest or abdominal complaints, etc. They may manage serious acute illnesses that simultaneously affect multiple organ systems in a single patient. Internists also manage multiple chronic diseases or “comorbidities” a single patient may be experiencing.
Internists have a broad understanding of how the human body works, or fails to work. Their primary role is to coordinate a patient’s care from the “big picture” perspective, whether providing direct care or referring patients to other physicians for specialized needs. They’re the consummate diagnosticians, and they draw on their knowledge of the relationships among the body’s systems to make connections between symptoms and potential causes. They differ from specialists in that the specialist see medical issues in a narrower, yet focused, approach, sometimes missing larger picture which fall outside their scope of practice. In collaborative treatment situations, the internist takes overall responsibility for the patient’s care.