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 does an internist earn?

  • $110,000 - $190,000

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?

American College of Physicians
190 N. Independence Mall West / Philadelphia, PA 19106-1572
tel:  (215) 351-2400 or (800) 523-1546 / web: www.acponline.org

Society of General Internal Medicine
1500 King Street, Suite 303 / Alexandria, VA 22314
tel: (202) 887-5150 or (800) 822-3060 / web: www.sgim.org

Medical Society of Virginia
2924 Emerywood Parkway, Suite 300 / Richmond, VA 23294-3746
tel:  (800) 746-6768 / web: www.msv.org

American Board of Internal Medicine
510 Walnut Street, Suite 1700 / Philadelphia, PA 19106
tel:  (215) 446-3500 or (800) 441-2246 / web: www.abim.org

American College of Osteopathic Internists
3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 508 / Bethesda, MD 20814
tel:  (301) 656-8877 / web:  www.acoi.org


State License Requirements for Internists:

A license is required to be a Family Physician in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications, and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.gov/medicine.

Virginia Board of Medicine
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300 / Henrico, VA 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4600 / Email: medbd@dhp.virginia.gov

Educational Institutions in Virginia for Internists: