Internal Medicine

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Internal Medicine: Providing Healthier Tomorrow

The human body is the most perfect, intricate, and efficient machine in existence; however, this magnificent machine is delicate. When the body malfunctions or breaks down, capable individuals are needed to diagnose and treat any issues. These individuals are referred to as physicians — highly trained medical professionals. They have played an integral role in nearly every society throughout history and have proven to be everyday miracle workers. Some specialties within the medical field include various surgical specialties, radiology, oncology, dermatology, and the most versatile of all, internal medicine. Internal medicine physicians, termed internists, apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Unlike most specialists, they are trained to handle any issue a patient may be having and are not limited to a single medical problem or organ. This allows them to serve as primary care providers for their patients; therefore, they develop particularly meaningful long-term relationships with their patients. Internal medicine’s unique features allow it to play a major role in medicine as well as society as a whole. The long and grueling road to becoming an internist leads to an extremely lucrative and rewarding career that saves lives.Internal Medicine: Providing Healthier Tomorrow

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For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. My early interest in becoming a physician was largely due to the fact that my father is an Internist. He would occasionally take me with him when he needed to quickly stop by the hospital and check in on his patients. I immediately took notice of the close relationship my father had with everyone at the hospital. He was friends with all the other doctors, and the nurses and patients seemed to adore him. Everyone I met would praise my father and tell me how lucky I was to have him. My father would also constantly talk about how the most rewarding part of his job not the money, but rather the ability to help others and make people smile or laugh. Seeing how my father changed people’s lives had always made me extremely proud of him and it inspired me to want to do the same. As I got older I started to volunteer regularly at his private practice until I started high school, after which I would rarely show up. After taking biology, I became extremely fascinated with human anatomy. I was truly captivated by the wonders of the inner workings of the body, all the different systems and organs working together to make up this perfectly designed machine, all the trillions of individual cells that we are comprised of, and the DNA that make us who we are; simply everything about the human body absolutely blew my mind. Upon developing this immense passion for human anatomy, I was sure I wanted to become a surgeon. The summer after my sophomore year in high school, I started working in my father’s private practice as a medical assistant. I greeted patients, answered phones, scheduled appointments, updated and filled patient medical records, prepared patients for examination, explained medical procedures to patients, and observed a number of medical procedures. As I began to develop personal relationships with some the patients, I began to question my choice to pursue surgery. While surgeons perform miracle operations simply unparalleled by even the most complex non-surgical procedure, they tend to lack the incredibly powerful personal relationship an internist can have with his or her patients.Internal Medicine: Providing Healthier Tomorrow

My love and passion for human anatomy and interest in surgery has not diminished; however, every time I remember what originally inspired me to become a physician, I know that internal medicine is right for me. With so many bright individuals aspiring to become physicians, the medical field is highly competitive and demanding. Ammar Hatahet, M. D. , once the Chief of Medicine at Mclaren Oakland Hospital, the Chief of Internal Medicine at WSU, a professor of medicine at MSU, and is currently the Residency Program Director at Mclaren, owns a private practice, and is on the WSU Admission Committee, stressed that the medical field is not for everyone, “aspiring physicians must have perseverance, you need to really like what you do”. In order to even apply to medical school, the student must have achieved a bachelor’s degree while completing the prerequisites for admission, including multiple advanced scientific and mathematical courses, and must also take the MCAT, a rigorous standardized test that takes over 7 hours to complete. To be considered by a medical school, undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores have to be outstanding; however, these achievements alone will not cut it. Dr. Hatahet on what schools look for, “there are going to be tens of thousands of applicants with exceptional grades and scores. In order to stand out, you have to do tons of research, you have to volunteer at hospitals or clinics, you have to dedicate yourself to the field; medical schools will be looking for applicants with passion and experience”. Once accepted into a medical school program, students must complete generally four years of schooling. Programs usually include two years of coursework followed by direct clinical experience with patients under the supervision of doctors. The clinical experience allows students to participate in a variety of specialties, helping them decide what specialty they might want to pursue.

Upon graduating with a medical school, an aspiring internist will then need to apply for an internal medicine residency program. Graduates will need to provide letters of recommendation as well as a personal statement to distinguish themselves from all the other highly qualified applicants. Programs then offer interviews to the most qualified applicants that might make a good fit in their program. Internal medicine residency lasts three years, in which residents will generally practice in a hospital under the direct or indirect supervision of an attending physician. Once an internist has completed residency, they are required to then take a three-step licensing exam as well as other certification exams in order to finally become a licensed physician. Licensed physicians can then freely practice medicine; however, licenses must be renewed periodically. After over a decade of education and training, the most ambitious of students finally become internalists.

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Due to the wide scope of training that internists possess, they have many options in terms of how and where they work. They may work in hospitals, own their own private practice, or quite often do a combination of both. The job outlook for internists between 2016-2026 is projected to be 13%, nearly double the average growth rate for all professions. Internists generally see about 20-25 patients a day, whether it is examining and treating patients in an office or just visiting patients in the hospital.Internal Medicine: Providing Healthier Tomorrow Since they are specially trained in scientific analysis and solving complex diagnostic problems, many specialized physicians actually consult internists to get help with a patient’s diagnosis. Due to this emphasis on scientific analysis and observation, internists have to do plenty of writing everyday. According to Dr. Hatahet some of required writing includes, “clinical documentation consisting of a patient’s medical history, medications, adverse events, etc. Then I have to document my physical exam findings. Followed by documentation of my thought process, assessment, and treatment plans. In addition to the medical stuff, I also write for research projects as well, but that’s a different story”. When it comes to financial compensation, general internists make less money than most other specialized physicians; nevertheless, internal medicine is still extremely lucrative. The average annual income of an internist in 2017 was about $198, 370. Private practitioners tend to make more than other internists that work in hospital environments, some even making up to double the average salary. When asked about any other advantages of owning a private practice, Dr. Hatahet stated, “In a private practice, you are your own boss. You can make decisions without having to go through bureaucracy. Plus, your are able to build even closer connections with patients. However, in the hospital you have more support with ancillary services”.

In conclusion, the versatility of internists allows them to practice in a variety of unique ways that impact lives everyday. Regardless of what approach internists may take in their practice, their determination and perseverance results in a rewarding career that has an immense, positive effect on today’s society. Their broad skillset separates them from other specialists and allows them to diagnose and treat nearly any non-surgical medical problem while also developing unparalleled doctor-patient relationships. An internist dedicates over a decade of their life to education and training in order to apply their scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to care for others. These truly extraordinary individuals save lives everyday and play an absolutely essential role in our society.Internal Medicine: Providing Healthier Tomorrow