Recent reports bemoaning how medical students and residents aren't interested in becoming general internists might have some believing that internal medicine is a dying field. But a look at the numbers tells quite the opposite story.
While general internal medicine in particular may be in a slump, internal medicine in general appears to be thriving. The concern, however, is that there may not be enough generalists to handle the increase in patient load brought about by the expanded coverage called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and by the new focus on primary care included in the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organization delivery models.
According to the American College of Physicians (the internal medicine specialty society), general internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of adult illness and are well-trained in the diagnosis of puzzling problems and ongoing care of complicated illnesses. Internal medicine subspecialists focus on a particular organ (such as nephrologists and kidneys), system (such as endocrinologists and glands), or age group (such as geriatricians). Other internal medicine subspecialties listed by the ACP are: adolescent medicine, allergy and immunology, cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology, infectious disease, oncology, rheumatology and sports medicine.