Explore internal medicine & its subspecialties – Part 4

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Cardiology: job description & training

Taking a patients blood pressure at Morogoro Hospital in Tanzania Cardiology is concerned with the functioning of the heart and blood vessels and the circulation of blood through the body.

Internists who specialise in cardiology focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions of the heart, circulation system and blood vessels in adult patients. As trained internists, they also perform general physical check-ups. If the diagnosis shows that the patient’s condition falls within cardiology, they will handle the treatment. If the patient’s condition requires the services of another physician, they make the appropriate referrals.

Cardiologists are often called when patients complain of chest pain or discomfort in which the diagnosis is unclear or where specialised medical care seems to be needed. However, not everyone who is experiencing pain in the chest or difficulty in breathing needs a cardiologist. A general internist can treat many patients with chest pain and breathing difficulties. The need for a cardiologist arises only for the specific diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the heart and circulatory system.

To become a cardiologist you will first have to complete seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training and become board certified in internal medicine. Then you will need to do an additional three to five years, where you will study conditions specific to the heart, blood circulation and blood vessels.

 

Allergy and Immunology: job description & training

Allergy and immunology is an internal medicine subspecialty that focuses on preventing, diagnosing and treating problems related to the human immune system.

As an allergy and immunology specialist you would focus on treating or researching these conditions:

 

  • Diseases associated with autoimmune responses, including arthritis
  • Respiratory tract diseases such as asthma, sinusitis and allergic rhinitis
  • Adverse reactions to drugs and diagnostic testing materials
  • Symptoms of disorders caused by immunodeficiency
  • Skin disorders such as hives, eczema and contact dermatitis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders from immune responses to foods
  • Immunogenetics
  • Stem cell, bone marrow and organ transplantation

 

Not everyone who suffers from known allergies or who has an unexpected allergic reaction needs to see an allergy and immunology specialist. Many allergy problems are diagnosed and handled by general internists or paediatricians. The skills of allergists and immunologists are called upon when special knowledge in diagnosis and treatment is needed.

To practice in this specialty you will first undergo seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training and become board certified in internal medicine. Following this, you would need to do two more years of training where you would study conditions that are specific to the human immune system.  

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