Internal medicine is comparable to both family medicine and pediatrics, but rather than working with patients of many ages, this medical specialty focuses on treating adults only. These physicians diagnose, treat, and prevent a variety of illnesses. Internists frequently see patients for physicals and routine maintenance of chronic conditions. Doctors who practice internal medicine are referred to as internists. Those who practice in hospitals may be called hospitalists.


Internal Medicine Residency

Medical graduates interested in pursuing internal medicine will need to complete three years in a residency program. According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, approximately 28,420 medical graduates were accepted into internal medicine programs. International medical students made up about 40 percent of this population, making it a practical specialty for this population.

Internal medicine is also a practical specialty to choose because it allows individuals to subspecialize in a variety of areas, as listed below:


  • Addiction Medicine
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease
  • Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Clinical Informatics
  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism
  • Gastroenterology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Hematology
  • Hematology and Medical Oncology
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Infectious Disease
  • Internal Medicine-Pediatrics
  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Nephrology
  • Pulmonary Critical Care
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Rheumatology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Transplant Hepatology


To become specialized in one of the specialties listed above, an individual may need to complete additional time in a specified residency program or fellowship. Information on each subspecialty and their education requirements can be found through the American College of Physicians.


Practicing as a Physician

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, there are approximately 63,435 practicing internists in the U.S. at present. The average annual salary for this population during 2019 was $243,000.


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