Internal medicine is a term derived from the German phrase innere Medizin, a phrase describing doctors that work directly with, patients, as well as in a laboratory setting. Internists often serve as the primary care physician of a patient, but should not be confused with “general practitioners,” as internists focus solely on the treatment of adults.
Now that you have an idea of what an internist does, you now need some basic information to guide you in choosing one that’s right for you. The first step is to figure out why you need to see a doctor of internal medicine. Internists will oftentimes choose a subspecialty that they focus on.
If you suffer from cancer, you’ll want to make sure you choose a doctor that specializes in medical oncology, and not a cardiologist. If you’re ailed by a case of colitis, it would be wiser of you to see an internist that specializes in gastroenterology. There are approximately eighteen subspecialties recognized by the American Board of Internal Medicine, so do some research, and figure out which type of internist will meet your medical needs.
Your next step will be finding the actual doctor who specializes in whatever is ailing you. In many cases, an internist is recommended to you by your general practitioner, or another doctor. If you trust the doctor that’s making the recommendation, this would likely be the best way to go. Doctors work with each other on a professional level. If you’ve trusted your doctor’s opinion regarding other issues concerning your health, chances are you can trust that she’ll point you in the direction of a competent doctor.
Another route to go would be to talk to friends and family members. While a family member may not be able to give you the medical expertise of another doctor, they will be able to give you the basics. A friend or family member will be able to give you a good amount of information regarding an internal medicine doctor. They will be able to tell you such things as whether or not they found the doctor to be friendly, knowledgeable, and if they prescribed medications and offered programs or regiments that were beneficial to treatment. If all else fails, there are online resources out there that offer peoples’ opinions of doctors. In some cases, you can simply go to an online search engine, type a doctors’ name (in quotations,) and then type the word “reviews” (not in quotations.)
If nothing shows up, go to your search engine again and enter a phrase like “doctor reviews,” or “internist reviews.” You will likely find websites in which you simply enter the city that the internal medicine doctor is located, and the doctor’s name, and you will find a list of reviews. These resources, however, are typically more prevalent in larger cities, and also require you to depend on the opinions of strangers. Also be sure to keep in mind that doctors are oftentimes not accepting new patients.
The last step that needs to be mentioned is figuring out how to pay for your internist visit. If you’re insured, your provider will have a list of any doctor that accepts payment from them. In most cases, you can find this information on the providers website, or by calling them with the doctor’s name. If you’re not insured, you need to figure out how much each visit will cost you, as most doctors, specifically in private practices, charge a different rate. You should also figure out whether or not the internist will be willing to set up any sort of payment plan with you. These issues can be addressed with the doctor’s billing department.