Internal medicine probably dates back to the end of the 19th century when the first congress of the sector was held in Germany in 1882 in Wiesbaden. The term “Innere Medizin” indicated at that time the scholars who combined laboratory experiments with care for the patient.
It deals with the medicine of the various internal organs and systems, such as the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, kidneys, hematopoietic system, endocrine system, as well as infectious, immune and rheumatic diseases.
It is therefore a highly interdisciplinary subject, whose task is to treat complex patients, suffering from multiple pathologies, or who have a series of symptoms that concern various organs, and which therefore are not the specific competence of a single specialist. In these cases, the internal medicine specialist is usually able to diagnose and act efficiently towards these so-called “critical” patients.
A bit of history
The name “internal medicine” was probably born in 1939 on the occasion of the Congress of Italian Scientists which was held in Pisa. The term would have been an expedient at the time to distinguish this discipline from “external medicine”, understood as surgery.
The figure who exercises the profession of “internist”, or “specialist in internal medicine” is the one who has full mastery of basic medical knowledge, as well as the notions of medical emergency and prevention. They specialize in treating patients with very general symptoms or prone to multi-organ disease, as their knowledge is not limited to a particular anatomical system.
To obtain the title of internal medicine doctor, it is necessary to have completed a six-year university course in Medicine and Surgery and to have obtained the Specialization diploma in Internal Medicine. This course provides training in various fields such as medical physiopathology, functional medical semeiotics and instrumental medical semeiotics. Other areas of interest are clinical methodology, general medical clinic, medical therapy with particular attention to emergency medicine, geriatrics, gerontology, allergology and clinical immunology. They work mainly in the hospital setting.
Important sector associations are JAMA Internal Medicine and ISIM (International Society of Internal Medicine) while in Italy the FADOI (Federation of Associations of Internist Hospital Managers) can be registered.