Most of the readers of this journal, in rare moments of reflection and self-examination, must have pondered the questions: Of what does the practice of internal medicine consist? What is an internist? Since internists are supposed eventually to be certified by a specialty board, the implication is that they practice a specialized type of medicine. Doubtless, in some suitably remote repository the definition of this specialty lies entombed, but the fact remains that among both the public and physicians themselves there is much confusion as to what is embraced by this most all-inclusive of the specialties.
Some dictionaries sensibly ignore the question. A recent edition of Webster's unabridged dictionary defines internal medicine as, "That branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the interior of the body," thus separating its practitioners from, at least, their dermatologic colleagues. "Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary" takes a further step in
Rhoads PS. INTERNAL MEDICINE AND THE TRAINING OF INTERNISTS. JAMA. 1958;168(10):1398–1400. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.63000100018020
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