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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Internal Medicine

"Internists take care of the general medical problems of adults. In a single day, they can act as a diagnostician, an educator, a director, an advocate, a motivator, a healer, and a comforter. In the clinic, they treat their patients' aches, pains, and sniffles. They also come to their bedsides in the hospital and manage their inpatient care. Some internists spend their time providing acute and chronic primary care; others become sub-specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and more."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p.239.

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M1 and M2 Students

  • What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?
    Internal medicine is a broad tent. It encompasses primary care, specialty care and subspecialty care. An internist could see a very broad or a very narrow scope of patients. A primary care physician sees urgent conditions, manages chronic conditions and acts as a diagnostician. A specialist such as a rheumatologist could see a variety of patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions or could just see patients with scleroderma. All medicine specialties have this spectrum (e.g., an oncologist who sees a wide variety of patients with cancer or an oncologist who just sees patients with lymphoma). Internists also vary in the amount of procedures they perform. Primary care doctors primarily talk to their patients. In contrast, some interventional specialists perform procedures most of the day. Examples are interventional cardiology (cardiac catherizations/valve replacements), interventional pulmonary (pleural biopsy, tracheostomy) and interventional gastroenterology (endoscopic drainage and biopsies of pancreatic masses and biliary obstruction).

    Internal medicine residency is three years long. Many people go into practice after this. Many other residents continue on to a specialty. These include allergy, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, hematology/oncology, infectious disease, nephrology, palliative care and rheumatology. Additional subspecialties include interventional cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology, heart failure and transplant hematology. Internal medicine is the largest department at Feinberg and most other medical schools.
  • How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    AOSC offers Feinberg students a taste of research. We encourage those who find research intriguing to pursue research further. A summer or several months of research will not improve your chances in medicine. A year or two of research may impress a program director. We encourage students to pursue research because you are interested, not to improve your CV. Internal medicine has the most grants of any department at Feinberg and a long history of excellence in research. Doing research in medical school helps to determine your career path. It is not necessary to do research within internal medicine to match in internal medicine.

M3 and M4 Students

Internal Medicine Resources

Request an Internal Medicine Adviser

Contact our Internal Medicine Advising Coordinator:

David Neely Image

David Neely, MD
Internal Medicine Career Advising Coordinator
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For More Information

Department of Medicine
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University
201 E. Huron, Suite Galter 3-150
Chicago, IL 60611

Advising website (email your netID to for access)