In­ternists’ defin­ing mo­ment

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Out­liers was re­minded of an In­tro­duc­tion to Phi­los­o­phy course when we heard about the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Physi­cians’ new “What is In­ter­nal Medicine?” pub­lic re­la­tions cam­paign. Rene Descartes’ most fa­mous line gets a re­tread in the ef­fort: “I think, there­fore I.M.”

That slo­gan along with a few oth­ers are avail­able on T-shirts, cof­fee mugs and posters as the prom­i­nent or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing in­ter­nal medicine physi­cians en­deav­ors to, well, tell the pub­lic what in­ter­nal medicine physi­cians do.

For one thing, the Philadel­phia-based Amer­i­can Col­lege of Physi­cians, with 137,000 mem­bers, wants the pub­lic to un­der­stand that there is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween in­ternists and in­terns. One is a board-cer­ti­fied doc­tor of in­ter­nal medicine, while the other is a med­i­cal school grad­u­ate in his or her first year of post-grad­u­ate train­ing. Who knew? But the ACP isn’t hav­ing an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis. The ed­u­ca­tional ef­fort is geared to­ward strength­en­ing the iden­tity of in­ternists and re­in­forc­ing pride in in­ter­nal medicine as a pro­fes­sion.

The ACP cam­paign also ex­plains that in­ternists are not fam­ily physi­cians. While both are pri­mary-care doc­tors, in­ternists pre­vent, di­ag­nose and treat ill­ness in adults, while fam­ily physi­cians may also treat chil­dren and have train­ing in surgery and ob­stet­rics.

The posters in the cam­paign list in­ternists’ val­ues such as pa­tient en­gage­ment, re­search and care co­or­di­na­tion. And in­ternists are in­vited to share their ideas on Twit­ter at #IMde­fined.

If you’d like your own in­ternist merch, go to

The ACP used a “word cloud” to high­light con­cepts cen­tral to in­ter­nal medicine.

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