Sunday, May 28, 2006

I am an Internist

My training was in both internal medicine and pediatrics, but I have told people that if you held a gun to my head and told me to choose one, I would choose Internal medicine. I would also think you had far too much time on your hands.

So why would someone choose to be a "flea?" Flea is a derogatory term people use for an internist. Why Flea? A flea is the last thing off of a dead person. While I cringe a little at the comment, I am proud to be an internist. The things I do daily as an internist that I enjoy include:
  1. I like elderly people. You get to be good friends with some of these people. They are happy to see you and I am genuinely happy to see many of them.
  2. I like the problem solving side of internal medicine. If I was to just do pediatrics, I would get bored after a while. Most kids have a single problem. It is usually not much head-scratching I have to do to figure out what is going on.
  3. I like the long-term interactions. Often it takes a while to figure out a problem or to stabilize a medical condition. I find that the process of working on a chronic problem or the untangling of a medical mystery is a good way to build a relationship with people. The give and take between doctor and patient is much of the joy.
  4. I find there is honor in being the one to stand by my patients in their hardest hour. Many people feel that it is depressing to be around sick and dying people. Yet I find the attitudes they carry and the way they face suffering is amazing. It is an honor to be with them as an observer, but even moreso as someone who can help in the time of the greatest need.
  5. The great variety you see every day. Whereas with pediatrics, you expect to see a lot of URI's, ear infections, and well child checks; the internist never quite knows what is going to come through the door. They don't teach a class in medical school about "What to do when a person's feet tingle every week - worse with stress." Now, some of these complaints are just plain weird and impossible to figure out, but I pride myself in my ability to untangle what the person is really saying.
  6. Chronic problems like Diabetes and Hypertension are very satisfying when you get them well-controlled. It is great to show a patient how much they have decreased their risk of future problems.
OK, I know that some will read this and say, "Eeeww! None of that sounds good to me. That is why I am NOT an internist." Good. I am glad there are people who are different from me. Personally, I would much rather build relationships and solve problems than do a procedure. So, now you know why some of us are fleas!