What does an Internist do?

Internists are physicians who provide primary care and/or subspecialty care (in fields such as cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, pulmonology, etc.) to adolescent, adult and geriatric patients. They provide continuous comprehensive medical care for acute and chronic diseases and preventive and wellness care. Internists specialize in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of adult patients.

What might an Internist do in a workday?


  • diagnose and treat those with serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and AIDS.
  • treat common health problems, such as hypertension, pneumonia or influenza.
  • prescribe and administer drugs and treatments.
  • immunize patients to protect them from preventable diseases.
  • educate patients for healthier lives.
  • may be general internists who provide comprehensive medical care for all adults or subspecialty internists who have an expertise in a particular area, such as infectious diseases or cardiology.

Developing a Career as an Internist

Internists may work in private practice, hospitals and/or clinics. Many also are involved in teaching and research. The demand for trained internists is rapidly increasing because of their broad base of medical knowledge.

How much salary do Internists make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become an Internist?

Students interested in becoming an internist should take the most challenging high school courses available in science, math and English, including advanced placement courses.

To enter medical school, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a high grade point average in a premedical program or other related major. They must pass a national examination (MCAT) and undergo extensive interviews.

Upon completion of medical school, students enter three years of postgraduate training (residency) during which they receive training specific to internal medicine. Those who wish further training may undertake a fellowship in a subspecialty field such as cardiology or infectious diseases.

Where else can I learn about becoming an Internist?

Professional Associations:

American College of Physicians
190 N. Independence Mall West
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1572
(215) 351-2400
(800) 523-1546

Society of General Internal Medicine
1500 King Street
Suite 303
Alexandria, VA 22314
(202) 887-5150
(800) 822-3060

Medical Society of Virginia
2924 Emerywood Parkway
Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23294-3746
(800) 746-6768

American Board of Internal Medicine
510 Walnut Street
Suite 1700
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 446-3500
(800) 441-2246

American College of Osteopathic Internists
11400 Rockville Pike
Suite 801
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 231-8877

State License Requirements for Internists

A license is required to practice as an Internist in the state of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit

Virginia Board of Medicine
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, VA 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4600

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