General medicine is the branch of medicine that focuses on adult care. It refers to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the internal organs. An internist may work with a patient’s heart, lungs and brain, among other organs. These doctors treat illnesses of the internal organs with methods other than surgery.
A specialist in this field is referred to as a general medicine physician. These doctors work with patients age 18 or older, as doctors who work with children are called pediatricians. General physicians become experts at diagnoses, thanks to their extensive training and medical school. Often, they must identify multiple diagnoses, as diseases that involve several internal organs are not uncommon.
Medicine as a practice is the process of maintaining or restoring a patient’s health through diagnosis and treatment. As this category is intentionally broad, the word general is applied before it when classifying any type of adult patient care. General internal medicine is a slightly narrower field because there is more of a focus on the body’s organs.
A general medicine practice typically consists of a consultant, registrar and house officer. The consultant is the specialist, or the general practitioner. The registrar is a doctor in training to become a specialist, and the house officer is a qualified doctor in training. Medical students may also work on the team as interns to gain hands-on experience in general medicine.
The house officer usually sees the patient first, and then presents the condition and symptoms to the consultant and registrar. The patient usually does not meet the consultant until the second day, when the whole team evaluates the patient together. Tests and treatments are usually not be performed unless the consultant is present. The surgical medical team evaluates patients who have medical problems, not those with surgical problems. If a patient comes to a general medicine doctor with an illness that needs to be treated by surgery, the doctor should send the patient to a hospital for further analysis and treatment.
General medicine doctors are responsible for recording a patient’s symptoms, inquiring about previous diseases, allergies and medication, and asking questions about the patient’s lifestyle choices, including the abuse of cigarettes and alcohol. A comprehensive medical exam is required before any diagnosis can take place. During the exam, the doctor is responsible for answering any questions the patient has. Finally, treatment of problems and counseling for healthy living and avoiding similar problems in the future takes place.