Why I Chose Internal Medicine as a Specialty

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Before medical school, what did being a doctor look like to you? Maybe it was like being JD from Scrubs or Dr. House, or maybe it was being a character on Grey’s Anatomy.

    For me, it was being an internist. And as I reflect on my professional journey, I can’t help but marvel at how fortunate I am to have chosen internal medicine as my field of practice.

    It’s understandable why I did—growing up with multiple family members already practicing internal medicine and its specialties, I was given a front-row seat to the noble role of healer. It was a firsthand view that not only shaped my perception of medicine, but ignited a passion within me to become a physician.

    Perhaps you’re thinking about becoming an internist, but you’re not sure if it’s right for you. Let me share with you the specific reasons I chose the field and why I think it’s a great career option.

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    Four Reasons to Choose Internal Medicine

    1. Internists embody the physician archetype.

    When you envision the quintessential doctor, the image that often comes to mind is that of an internist.

    Armed with expansive medical knowledge, compassion that knows no bounds, and the ability to address a diverse array of health concerns, internal medicine (IM) embodies the very essence of what it means to be a physician.

    For me, choosing IM was not just a career decision; it was a conscious step toward realizing my vision of a physician as someone who is not only skilled and knowledgeable but deeply compassionate.

    2. Practicing internal medicine allows you to foster relationships with your patients.

    What captivates me about IM is the unique opportunity it allows me to foster intimate relationships with patients.

    In this field, I am a partner in my patients’ well-being, walking beside them on their health journey in a variety of arenas, including the acute (hospital, ICU) and the longitudinal (clinic).

    This connection goes beyond the symptoms and diagnoses, delving into the intricacies of their lives and allowing me to provide holistic and personalized care. This is not only a better way to treat patients, but also a more rewarding way of practicing the medical profession.

    3. Internists wear many hats.

    The flexibility inherent in internal medicine is another facet that makes this field a perfect match for me. Whether I find myself in a bustling clinic, a rehabilitation center, a hospital setting, or an administrative position, the scope allows me to adapt and thrive in various environments.

    The option to engage in research further expands the horizons of my practice, enabling me to contribute to the advancement of medical knowledge.

    4. As an internist you can specialize or maintain a broad focus.

    One of the standout features of IM is the freedom to choose between maintaining a broad focus or delving into a specialized area. This flexibility is a testament to the adaptability of the field, allowing IM physicians to pivot and evolve in their careers as their passions and interests develop.

    While I’m not personally going into a subspecialty (though there are many options), I feel confident that if I were to pursue fellowship later on, there is always that option for me.

    My Path to Internal Medicine

    My personal journey in internal medicine involved a lot of transitions. First, I thought I wanted to do a surgical subspecialty before I switched to IM. The long hours in the operating room and the many years of training were not meant for me, and I only wish I had realized this earlier! 

    I also moved quite a bit, starting out in California for undergrad, then Washington, D.C. for medical school, and Tennessee for residency before moving to New Mexico as an attending to be near family.

    Despite how challenging it was to keep moving to new places, the practice of internal medicine gave me the same fulfillment everywhere I went, solidifying the field as the best choice I ever made.

    Final Thoughts

    Internal medicine aligns perfectly with my vision of what it means to be a doctor. It is not merely a profession but a calling—one that beckons me to make a difference in the lives of my patients while continually evolving and growing as a healthcare professional. Choosing internal medicine was undoubtedly the right move for me, and I am excited to continue this journey of healing, compassion, and discovery in the heart of healthcare.

    As I delve deeper into this captivating field, I eagerly anticipate the myriad opportunities to learn, grow, and positively impact the lives of those entrusted to my care. Each day in internal medicine is a chance to expand my knowledge, refine my skills, and deepen the bonds with my patients, as I solidify my commitment to this vocation.

    If my story is one that appeals to you, consider choosing internal medicine as a specialty. Whatever you choose, best of luck on your journey.

    Further Reading

    Looking for more (free!) tips for choosing a specialty? Check out these other posts from Blueprint tutors on the Med School blog!

    About the Author

    Navin studied Biochemistry at Santa Clara University, attended Georgetown University School of Medicine, and is a current resident physician at the Internal Medicine Residency at TriStar Centennial Medical Center 2. Navin has been working for Blueprint since 2020 and has general interests in medical education, trends in medicine, and wellness.