February 24, 2020

Spring 2103 Issue

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Family and Internal Medicine

These specialists are a patient’s first and best resource

By Rachel Stephens

The American College of Physicians calls primary care  “the backbone of the nation’s healthcare system.”  Primary care providers include family physicians, internists, pediatricians and sometimes OB/GYNs.  These are the physicians with whom average patients have their first and most frequent encounters.

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) are two of the 24 medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS.)  Founded in 1936, the ABIM is the largest medical specialty board in the United States; while the ABFM, established in 1969, is the second largest.

The term “internal medicine” comes from the German term Innere Medizin, a discipline popularized in Germany in the late 1800s to describe physicians who combined the science of the laboratory with the care of patients. Many early 20th century American doctors studied medicine in Germany and brought this medical field to the United States. Thus, the name “internal medicine” was adopted.According to its website (www.abim.org), the ABIM certifies one out of every four practicing physicians in the United States – currently more than 200,000.  The subspecialties of internal medicine include: adolescent medicine, allergy and immunology, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, hematology, hospice and palliative medicine, infectious disease, medical oncology, nephrology, pulmonary disease, rheumatology, sleep medicine and sports medicine.

Family medicine is the natural evolution of historical medical practice. The first physicians were generalists, who for thousands of years provided all of the medical care available. They diagnosed and treated illnesses, performed surgery, and delivered babies. As medical knowledge expanded and technology advanced, many physicians chose to limit their practices to specific, defined areas of medicine.  In 1969, family medicine was designated as medicine’s twentieth specialty.Its subspecialties include adolescent medicine, geriatric, hospice and palliative, sleep medicine and sports medicine.

The three physicians pictured on the cover – Dr. Thomas Manser, Dr. AnnMarie DeFiglio and Dr. Julius Miller – represent the full spectrum of medical care under the umbrella “family and internal medicine.”  Hampton Roads Physician is privileged to honor these three practitioners, each of whom was nominated for having made significant contributions to their field.

Each of these three physicians exemplifies the hard work and dedication that are part and parcel of being a primary care doctor. Keenly aware, on the most intimate level, of the time constraints placed on family and internal medicine practitioners who have traditionally cared for patients both in and out of the hospital, they each speak with enthusiasm about the growing field of hospitalist medicine. In fact, each of them has personal experience in that area.

As work in the field of genomics broadens the knowledge of all physicians dealing with human illness and disease, family and internal medicine doctors may see a day in the not-too-distant future where they can make treatment decisions based on their patients’ individual genetic data and susceptibilities to medication.

As physicians and patients await that day, more primary care physicians are working to improve the quality of their care by adopting the rigorous standards of a Patient-Centered Medical Home, a health care setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their personal physicians – and when appropriate, the patient’s family. The Patient Centered Medical Home is a care delivery model whereby patient treatment is coordinated through their primary care physician to ensure they receive the necessary care when and where they need it, in a manner they can understand.

Hampton Roads Physician is proud to honor physicians in our community like these three, and to shine a light on their accomplishments.  As it is their mission to practice medicine at the highest level, with excellence and integrity, so it is the mission of this magazine to share their stories.  Contact us any time with nominations or story concepts.