What is internal medicine?

Internal medicine is a medical specialty focused on diagnosing and treating adults. It deals with a wide range of diseases and health problems, not just affecting the internal organs, but also the whole person, including chronically ill patients or patients in need of short-term care. According to the American College of Physicians: “Internal medicine physicians, or internists, are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.”.


What is an internal medicine doctor or an internist?

A physician who specializes in internal medicine can be called a doctor of internal medicine or an internist. However, do not mistake internists with “interns”, because interns are the first year medical residents, which means they are doctors in training. Internists are well trained in the diagnosis of medical problems and in the provision of appropriate care and treatment methods. They are also specialists in health promotion, disease and illness prevention. On the other hand, internal medicine physicians don’t deliver babies, treat children, or do surgery.

Doctors in internal medicine Raleigh, with their extensive knowledge and practical experience, provide highly qualified expertise in integrative medicine, primary care, preventive care, health maintenance and education. They also specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide spectrum of diseases. Our internal medicine doctors in Raleigh care for their patients for life, from late adolescence through to old age. They work hard to ensure you will receive the highest quality of personalized care. We believe in the importance of building a trusting relationship between a patient and an internist, as your well-being is our highest priority.

What do internal medicine doctors treat?

At our internal medicine clinic in Raleigh, our internists have broad ranging knowledge of complex diseases that affect adults. They are remarkable specialists in diagnosing and treating diseases, that are currently, and particularly conditions where several various illnesses may strike at the same time. Our doctors are highly-trained not only to diagnose and treat the various conditions, but also to prevent your health from deteriorating by recognizing and controlling risk factors such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol.   

Conditions Treated by our internal medicine doctors:

Three Significant Questions to Ask Your Internist 

Our doctors in direct primary care, Raleigh are very approachable and compassionate toward patients. It’s normal, however, for a patient to resist asking questions from the doctor out of fear of being judged, or labeled. For health issues that require an internal medicine doctor’s attention, a patient might also hesitate to ask questions out of embarrassment about a bodily function, or issue.

At our clinic of internal medicine in Raleigh, communication matters to the success of a good relationship between a patient and a doctor. When you reach a certain age, you’ll often see an internal medicine doctor, also called an internist, because they are the primary carers for adults.

Studies reveal that when patients ask direct primary care doctors plenty of questions about their health, the risks of dying or having an attack reduces. Below are three crucial questions to consider when you’re looking for a good internal medicine doctor.

1. What kind of disease do I have and is it serious? 

Our doctors at internal medicine in Raleigh know the extent of how much a certain condition will affect the patient. Whether this is a short-term or long-term condition, a good internist must be upfront about the state of their patient’s health. 

In defining the seriousness of the condition, the internal medicine doctor must also be able to properly explain the types of tests needed, as well as the symptoms that the patient has to watch out for. 


2. What are my treatment options? 

Options are very important to patients and a good internal medicine doctor should be ready to provide one when this question comes up. The internist must also be ready to tell the patient the cost of the treatment plans, the length of the treatment and the general prognosis and recovery period, so that the patient can make an informed decision about how to deal with the condition.

The internist must also be able to explain the side effects and risks, versus the benefits of the treatment. If the patient decides to delay the treatment, his doctor must also be able to explain the implications. 

3. Would I need surgery? 

Most patients are anxious and fearful about surgery because of anesthesia, according to a study in Anaesthesiologica Belgica.They might be assured to undergo this procedure, however, because of the way their doctor addresses their concerns. 

Thus, a good internist should be able to properly outline the benefits and risks of surgery to the patient. If they are recommending a surgeon, the internist must also know that doctor’s qualifications. 

Differentiating the Roles of Family Doctors & Internal Medicine Physicians

Primary care physicians often fall into two categories: family doctors and internal medicine doctors. Their roles and expertise may overlap in many areas, but there’s a big difference between these two doctors as well. 

So, how do you know which primary care physician is right for you? Here are some distinct differences between a family doctor and an internal medicine physician.

1. Family doctors look after patients of all ages.

Family doctors can be consulted on ailments affecting children and adults. They usually become the primary care doctors that grow with the family. These experts are like pediatricians because they can treat children, but they are also like an internal medicine doctor when treating adult medical issues. In some cases, family doctors may also be consulted on women’s health issues, per the Piedmont Healthcare. Their role in health encompasses all categories.  

2. Internal medicine physicians focus on medical conditions affecting adults. 

Adults have health risks that require unique expertise thus some patients may prefer seeing an internist as their primary care physician than their family doctor. The training of an internal medicine doctor in Raleigh primarily centers on adult health issues. Some internists have specializations in sleep disorders, dermatology, ophthalmology, infectious diseases, heart or gastrointestinal diseases, obstetrics, and geriatrics, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

3. Family doctors have had broad training on various medical issues.

Since family doctors provide general care, they are often recommended for outpatient treatment. They can diagnose, prescribe and advise patients on the management of acute illnesses and chronic conditions, as well as provide valuable help for preventive medicine. However, since they do not have specializations, they might not be the perfect primary care physician, if the patient needs hospital care. 

4. Internal medicine doctors are more keen on inpatient treatments.

Doctors trained to be an internist belong to a network of specialists. Though they may also provide outpatient care, they are more focused on inpatient treatments and consult with other internal medicine specialists regarding the patient’s condition.

History of Family Doctors versus Internal Medicine Physicians

According to the American College of Physicians, internal medicine historically grew into practice in the 1800s, when the medical industry needed experts to treat unique conditions. Some internal medicine doctors at that time focused on special care for children in order to become pediatricians while others continued to focus on adult patients. 

Family doctors, on the other hand, became more in demand in the 1960s as a way to establish a doctor-patient relationship with continued care. This concept arose out of the need to treat a social unit instead of a specific patient. 

In the United States, family doctors often see 10-15% of children and consult on 85% of adult cases – roughly the same rate of cases that internal medicine doctors see. Thus, because of this overlap, it might be confusing for some patients to know which experts to approach. 

Adults may receive satisfactory primary care from both types of doctors. However, for conditions that may require in-depth consultations, it might be best to see an internist with a specialization. 

About Schneider Medical Group in Raleigh, NC

Dr. Inaam & Richard Schneider are both fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine, as well. If you would like to know more about the internal medicine practice in Raleigh, our internal medicine doctors, or other services provided by Dr. Schneider, please Contact Us or Schedule An Appointment.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.