On the Job
Internists treat people who have illnesses that don't require surgery. They also promote and maintain overall health of adults.
Internists are doctors who are on the inside, so to speak. They focus on the internal organs of the body and their related systems. For example, they treat the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Internists also treat the nervous, digestive, endocrine, and the circulatory systems. Most focus on the treatment of adults, although a few do treat adolescents and children.Internists often treat conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and heart disease. They also treat common illnesses like infections and the flu. They may also immunize patients. Internists also focus on preventing problems before they begin. They educate patients about exercise, hygiene, and nutrition. They also talk to patients about managing their lifestyle, especially when it comes to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
In general, internists ask patients questions to learn more about their medical history. They examine patients and order lab tests. Internists explain test results and review treatment options with patients and their families. If more than one treatment is available, they help patients decide which option to choose. Internists watch a patient's condition and make changes in the treatment if needed.
Internists assign tasks to nurses and other health care workers. They often consult with other health care professionals. In private practice, internists may oversee the business aspects of running an office. They keep detailed records about each patient. They write reports for insurance companies and government agencies that collect data on births and deaths.
Many internists are primary care physicians. They see the same patients on a regular basis. When needed, they send patients to health care specialists for testing or treatment, especially if a patient needs a surgical procedure.
Some internists work in hospitals, either as a doctor or an administrator. They may also run community health programs. Some internists teach at medical schools. They may also do research on procedures and treatments for disease. Advances in medicine require internists to update their skills regularly.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Meet with patients to gather background information.
- Examine patients to find location of health problems.
- Order lab tests to help make diagnoses. Analyze data and make diagnoses.
- Counsel patients on preventive health measures, such as diet, hygiene, and exercise.
- Recommend treatment and discuss with patients.
- Monitor patients' health and re-evaluate treatment.
- Keep detailed records on patients' health.
- Counsel family members about patients' condition.
- Refer patients to health care specialists when needed.
- Treat internal disorders, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as other common illnesses.
- Consult with other physicians.
- Write chart notes. Fill out paperwork for government agencies or insurance companies.
- Assign tasks to nurses and other health workers.
- Take classes to update skills.
- May administer hospital or community health programs.
- May do research and write articles for journals.
- May perform operations on patients to remove or repair diseased areas.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Assist and care for others.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Analyze data or information.
- Process information.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Document and record information.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Work with the public.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a very high level of social interaction. They constantly talk with nurses, patients, and other doctors.
- Are responsible for outcomes and the results of other workers. However, patient health depends on many things outside an internist's control.
- Are substantially responsible for the health and safety of patients.
- May be placed in conflict situations where patients might become rude or angry.
- Communicate daily by phone, letters, memos, and in person. They use e-mail, but much less frequently.
- Usually work as part of a team of medical professionals.
- Always work indoors.
- Are exposed to diseases and infections on a daily basis. To protect themselves, they regularly wear gloves and surgical masks.
- Work very near others. They must come into close physical contact with patients during examinations.
- Must be very exact and highly accurate in their work. Serious errors have a direct impact on patient health.
- Work in a moderately competitive, stressful atmosphere where they must meet daily deadlines.
- Make decisions on a daily basis that greatly impact patients and their families.
- Make nearly all their decisions and set their daily tasks and goals independently.
- Repeat the same physical and mental tasks.
- Work full time, often in offices and clinics.
- Overtime and irregular work hours are common, especially in a hospital setting.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Stand for long periods of time.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Use fingers or hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.