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Contrary to what you might think, internists are not interns. They are physicians who specialize in internal medicine. Internal medicine refers to treating the body's internal organs, including the major organs and digestive tract.

Internists diagnose and treat patients suffering from diseases affecting the internal organs. Because they are specialized, internists are rarely the first doctors you meet. It's more likely that you visit a general practitioner who refers you based on her assessment.

Internists have their job cut out for them because internal medicine is a wide area. Thus, they use medications and surgeries as much as they observe and monitor patients.

To become an Internist, you need first to finish medical school and complete an internship program. You then chose to specialize in internal medicine. Some Internists get additional training and further narrow their specializations to endocrinology, cardiology, and gastroenterology.

What Does an Internist Do

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

Learn more about what an Internist does

How To Become an Internist

Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.

Education

Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, all students must complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 or 7 years.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills, learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physicians and surgeons need to be excellent communicators. They must be able to communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.

Compassion. Physicians and surgeons deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. Physicians and surgeons must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physicians and surgeons must ensure that patients are receiving appropriate treatment and medications. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Dexterity. Physicians and surgeons must be good at working with their hands. They may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Leadership skills. Physicians who work in their own practice need to be effective leaders. They must be able to manage a staff of other professionals to run their practice.

Organizational skills. Some physicians own their own practice. Strong organizational skills, including good recordkeeping, are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Physicians and surgeons may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.

Physical stamina. Physicians and surgeons should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or turning disabled patients. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Physicians and surgeons need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.

Training

After medical school, almost all graduates enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.

All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board. 

Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

Internist Career Paths

Average Salary for an Internist

Internists in America make an average salary of $202,944 per year or $98 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $387,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $106,000 per year.
Average Internist Salary
$202,944 Yearly
$97.57 hourly
$106,000
10 %
$202,000
Median
$387,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Internist Education

Internist Majors

31.7 %
9.1 %

Internist Degrees

Bachelors

35.1 %

Doctorate

22.7 %

Certificate

15.9 %

Top Colleges for Internists

1. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

2. University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,730
Enrollment
18,830

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

6. Howard University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$26,756
Enrollment
6,166

7. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

8. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

9. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

10. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,974
Enrollment
35,656

Top Skills For an Internist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.3% of internists listed health care on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and compassion are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Internist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Internist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Internist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Internist Demographics

Internist Gender Distribution

Female
Female
63%
Male
Male
37%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among internists, 62.7% of them are women, while 37.3% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among internists is White, which makes up 64.4% of all internists.

  • The most common foreign language among internists is Spanish at 38.0%.

Online Courses For Internist That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Health After Cancer: Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care
coursera

This course presents basic principles of cancer survivorship to primary-care physicians. Developed by a team of experts in caring for cancer survivors, and narrated by a primary-care physician, this course provides practical tips and tools that can be easily integrated into medical practice. You will learn about the complex physical and psychosocial needs and concerns of the growing number of cancer survivors, along with the key role that primary care physicians have in guiding these patients ba...

Trauma Emergencies and Care
coursera

Welcome to Trauma Emergencies and Care. In this course, you will learn about some of the mechanics and physics of trauma on the human body, and how this can cause injury. You will continue to expand your new vocabulary with medical terminology, and learn how to describe the different injuries you may see. You will also learn about the trauma system itself- and when it is important to transport patients to a trauma center. Then we will dive into specific injuries based on what part of the body ma...

Essentials of Palliative Care
coursera

This course starts you on your journey of integrating primary palliative care into your daily lives. You will learn what palliative care is, how to communicate with patients, show empathy, and practice difficult conversations. You will learn how to screen for distress and provide psychosocial support. You will learn about goals of care and advance care planning and how to improve your success with having these conversations with patients. Finally, you will explore important cultural consideratio...

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Best States For an Internist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an internist. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, and Nevada. Internists make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $238,020. Whereas in Washington and North Dakota, they would average $232,514 and $230,784, respectively. While internists would only make an average of $226,677 in Nevada, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Internist Jobs:
53
Highest 10% Earn:
$291,000
Location Quotient:
1.91 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. South Dakota

Total Internist Jobs:
84
Highest 10% Earn:
$287,000
Location Quotient:
2.63 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Mexico

Total Internist Jobs:
153
Highest 10% Earn:
$287,000
Location Quotient:
2.62 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Internists

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