An in-depth look into Internal Medicine Residency

An in-depth look into Internal Medicine Residency

Are you a medical student interested in focusing your career on the specialty of internal medicine? In the US, once you’ve graduated from medical school, you can proceed to do your internal medicine residency.

Each year, more and more medical graduates aspire to enter the internal medicine field. As an internal medicine doctor, you can diagnose and treat various internal organ conditions and offer patients comprehensive medical care. The specialty also has a wide range of options to practice on.

Over the past decade, the number of internal medicine residencies and programs has risen steadily. But what is internal medicine residency, and what are its requirements? Through this post, let’s get an in-depth understanding of what internal medicine residency has to offer.

Introduction to Internal Medicine Residency

Internal medicine residency is a three-year specialized training program that takes place right after graduating from any certified medical school in the US. During this training period, internal medicine residents get specialized and foundational training that prepares them to become qualified doctors in any of the subspecialties of their choice.

Internal medicine focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing health issues and diseases affecting adult patients' internal organs. Typically, internal medicine residents choose to subspecialize or focus on either one part of the body or any type of illness. For instance, an ophthalmologist focuses on eye-related issues, while a cardiologist deals with issues related to the heart.

Residents can opt to pursue Internal Medicine Residency

Who Can Apply For Internal Medicine Residency?

Becoming a specialized internal medicine physician can be time-consuming, expensive, and tedious. Once you have completed four years of medical school at an accredited university, you can pursue an internal medicine residency with a subspecialty of your choice.

Internists get specialized medical training during the residency program that usually lasts for years. After completing the training, they get their certified medical license to practice internal medicine. If the internists are interested in opting for a sub-specialize, they will have to spend 1 to 4 years of additional training for each specialization based on their choice.

Internal medicine physicians must solve complex medical cases as part of their professional and academic residencies. This equips them to handle most medical cases that may arise, especially for what they specialize in. Here are some of the common health concerns they can treat:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Digestive issues
  • Mental health concerns
  • Allergies
  • Joint injuries and bone disorders

What Are The Different Subspecialties In Internal Medicine Residency?

After completing an internal medicine residency, internists have various options to pursue their medical journey. While some choose to pursue general internal medicine, others may consider additional training in other areas of internal medicine by taking up any of the different subspecialties. After completing an internal medicine residency, pursuing additional training in a subspecialty is referred to as a Fellowship.

If you’re interested in getting additional training after completing three years of an internal medicine residency program, here are some internal medicine subspecialties you need to consider:

Cardiovascular Diseases

Specialized physicians help treat chronic and acute cardiovascular diseases such as:

  • Acute myocardial infarction.
  • Chronic coronary heart disease.
  • Arrhythmia.
  • Congenital heart diseases.
  • Congestive heart failures.

Training – A three-year fellowship after completing an internal medicine residency. Of which, specialists must focus on research for one year.

Infectious Disease

Though this specialty was losing its popularity during the initial antibiotic era, it’s now creating a huge wave due to the AIDS epidemic and different variants of drug-resistant bacteria. In addition to practicing general internal medicine, disease specialists diagnose and treat contagious diseases.

Training – A two-year fellowship after completing an internal medicine residency.

Adolescent medicine

Adolescent medicine's specialty mainly focuses on the medical needs of adolescents and young adults. Internal medicine specialists who pursue this subspecialty take care of the patient's social, physical, sexual, and psychological development.

Training – Specialists must initially complete at least seven years of medical school and postgraduate training and be certified physicians in Internal medicine or pediatrics. Internists can pursue an additional one to three years in adolescent medicine to focus on medical conditions specific to young adults and adolescents.


Specialized medical physicians with advanced training in hematology can diagnose, treat, and prevent all disorders affecting the bone marrow, blood, hemostatic, vascular, and immunologic systems.

Training – Once you complete your internal medicine residency, you must pursue a two-year fellowship in hematology to get the specialization.


The endocrinology specialty of internal medicine mostly deals with regulating hormones in normal physiology. This includes the pancreatic glands, testes or ovaries, thyroid glands, pituitary glands, adrenal glands, and their target tissues.

Any dysregulation in the physiologic hormone profiles can cause systemic illnesses and significant ramifications. In addition, the medical practice of endocrinology also focuses on the management of neoplasia that occurs in the endocrine tissues.

Training – On completing the internal medicine residency training program, specialists can pursue this specialty. The two options available are:

  • A two-year clinical curriculum. (Or)
  • A three-year program that combines clinical and research fellowship.

Medical Oncology

Internal medicine specialists pursuing medical oncology focus on diagnosing and managing cancer treatment. In most cases, an oncologist may be interested in certain cancer therapies, like biological therapy or a certain cancer type. This specialty helps specialists gain advanced knowledge about the required skills, training, experience, and the latest information needed to handle various cancer and cancer therapy types.

Training – After completing the internal medicine residency training program, specialists must pursue a two-year fellowship in this subspecialty.

Final Thoughts

Internal medicine residency helps physicians offer their patients the initial point of care. Most medical graduates are interested in taking up internal medicine residency due to the wide range of primary care specialties it has to offer. This, in turn, helps build a long-standing relationship with patients that can last for years.

If you’re someone who enjoys spending time with your patients and forming a relationship with them, internal medicine residency is for you. In addition to providing a career in the most in-demand medical field also allows you to treat a wide range of complex health issues.