Internal Medicine Doctor Vs. Endocrinologist

Jan 29, 2018

This article looks at the different training requirements and duties for internal medicine doctors and endocrinologists. Read on to compare the focus of their work, types of conditions they treat and job growth projections for these professionals.

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Comparing Internal Medicine Doctors to Endocrinologists

Although internal medicine doctors and endocrinologists earn comparable salaries, endocrinologists are specialists who need to complete extra training. Internal medicine doctors provide the primary or initial treatment for general medical issues that can affect any part of the body while endocrinologists focus on specific medical issues such as fertility issues or osteoporosis.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Internal Medicine Doctors Medical degree, residency, license $181,670 17% (internists, general)
Endocrinologists Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $184,951 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Internal Medicine Doctors vs. Endocrinologists

Internal medicine doctors and endocrinologists see patients, write prescriptions and advise patients on how to cope with their health issues. Internal medicine doctors may need to collaborate with specialists to determine the best way to treat specific issues or they may send patients to specialists. Endocrinologists are specialists who concentrate on treating specific medical conditions such as thyroid problems or diabetes, but they may also work with other specialists to provide treatment for some medical issues. Endocrinologists see patients who are referred to them by internal medicine doctors and pediatricians and are responsible for informing them about their assessments and treatment plans. Some endocrinologists specialize in research and spend their time performing studies to develop medical treatments.

Internal Medicine Doctors

Internal medicine doctors are on the front lines of healthcare because they are usually the main doctor that patients see first for all issues. They spend most of their time working in a medical office or clinic, although they also spend some time working in hospitals where they see their patients who have been admitted. With additional training through a fellowship they can specialize; areas of specialization include cardiology and oncology. It's important for internal medicine doctors to have good communication skills and interpersonal skills because they spend their days seeing a number of patients. They also need compassion because they may treat patients who are frustrated or frightened due to their condition.

Job responsibilities of an internal medicine doctor include:

  • Performing patient examinations
  • Referring patients for medical tests
  • Examining test results
  • Removing moles
  • Educating patients on their diet and health
  • Providing patients with prescriptions


Medical issues affecting the endocrine system are treated by endocrinologists. They usually work in medical offices, although they may also be employed by hospitals and clinics. Overtime is common for all doctors and endocrinologists working in hospitals or clinics may work varied hours during the day or night.

Job responsibilities of an endocrinologist include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Counseling diabetics about diet and exercise
  • Ordering medical tests
  • Assessing hormone levels in patients
  • Collaborating with other specialists

Related Careers

If internal medicine sounds appealing then you may also want to consider being a pediatrician since pediatricians treat many of the same issues but focus on patients under the age of twenty-one. Endocrinologists often collaborate with gynecologists on treatments for patients with fertility issues so those considering endocrinology may also be interested in a career in gynecology.

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