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What is an Internist and Why Should I Have One?

Dr. Li, InternistInternal medicine doctors, often called "internists," specialize in adult medicine. They can act as your primary care provider with only a few differences and many added benefits, depending on your age and health.

Internists — not to be confused with an "intern" or a doctor in his or her first year of medical training — focus on prevention and treatment of adult diseases in their schooling and post-graduate work. This knowledge makes them ideal for adults, from teen years through old age, with multi-system diseases and multiple or chronic illnesses. Many patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, for example, see an internist for their primary care. Even if you are healthy and disease-free now, many adults prefer to have an internist to prepare for changes later in life.

Like a family or general practice doctor, internists can serve as your primary care provider. They will manage your preventative care, such as planning mammograms, cholesterol screenings and blood pressure screenings. They can also evaluate and treat acute illness, coordinate additional medical services, and communicate with other physicians that are part of your healthcare. The only services they cannot provide are labor and delivery, surgery and pediatric care.

Having a primary care provider ensures you have the most comprehensive, coordinated healthcare possible. It is a great idea to establish a relationship with a provider so you can easily and quickly get the help you need in an emergency. Call the MercyCare Find-a-Doc line at (319) 369-4444 to learn about internists and family medicine providers that are accepting new patients.