Internist Quick Facts
Median Salary: $136,000 – $166,400+
Number of Jobs: 691,000
Hourly Rate: $65.41 – $80+
Employment Outlook: Normal
Internist Job Description
Internists are doctors of internal medicine. They are physicians who provide non-surgical treatment to patients who have injuries or diseases in their internal organ systems. They commonly treat disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and problems with the brain, lungs, and kidneys.
After medical school, internists can choose to specialize in many different areas. Not all internists choose to specialize, but many do. Geriatrics, oncology, pulmonology, cardiology, immunology, and hematology are just a few of the common specialties for internists. You can learn more about the various career specialties here.
Many physicians and surgeons consult internists when they’re trying to diagnose a particularly puzzling or complex problem. Since their training is specialized around diagnosing problems with internal organs, internists are often able to identify problems more quickly and accurately than a general practitioner would be able to. For this reason, internists are sometimes called ‘doctor’s doctors.’
In some cases, internists work as primary care physicians, but they normally only see adult patients. Most of the patients that internists see are elderly, because they are most likely to have problems with their internal organs. If you want to work with younger patients, then you should consider a career as a family physician or pediatrician instead.
Internists work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities. Because people need care at all times of day or night, internists’ schedules can be very irregular. Working on nights, weekends, and holidays is sometimes required.
How to Become an Internist
The first step to becoming an internist is getting a bachelor’s degree. Internists come from many different academic backgrounds, but coursework in mathematics, chemistry, and biology are required to get into medical school.
Getting into medical school is very competitive, and strong grades as an undergraduate student are required for admission. To get in, students have to submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Most students take the MCAT in either their junior or senior year of their undergraduate program.
The first two years of medical school are normally spent in a classroom environment, where students learn about ethics, anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry, and other related subjects. The second two years are normally spent working under the supervision of an experienced internist in a hospital or clinic.
Working under the supervision of an experienced doctor provides students with the practical background they will need throughout their careers, and helps prepare them for a residency. It also helps students figure out what area of internal medicine they might like to specialize in.
All internists have to complete a residency program after they graduate from medical school. The residency normally takes place in a hospital. Most residencies for internists last three years, but some are longer. A residency teaches graduates how to work with patients, and provides a smooth transition between school and their career.
All states require internists to be licensed. The exact requirements for licensing vary from state to state, but graduating from medical school, completing a residency, and passing an exam are normally required. Check with your state’s licensing board to learn the exact licensing requirements for your state.
There are currently 691,000 internists in the United States, with 30,510 new internist job openings created each year.
Internist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Internist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most internists make between $136,000 – $166,400+ per year, or $65.41 – $80+ per hour.