How Internal Medicine Physicians Impact Global Health

I.M. the cornerstone of comprehensive health care

Discover the unique leadership roles, career pathways and impact of internal medicine physicians.

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Internal medicine physicians train to comprehensively understand connections in adult medicine––with a keen focus on the factors that impact human health. Since we live in an increasingly interconnected world, it’s even more important for internal medicine physicians to recognize the intersectionality of health care around the world.

As innovators and leaders, internal medicine physicians can make an impact with a recognition and understanding of the intricacies of global health systems, global diagnostic complexities and help improve and impact global health through preventative medicine, chronic disease management, infection disease control, global health education, public health advocacy, improving health equity, research and innovation, and disaster response and humanitarian efforts. While our locales and systems may be unique, the value that we bring as internal medicine physicians know no borders or boundaries.

Here’s how some internal medicine physicians and ACP members are impacting health care at the global level:

Following Passion to Improve Global Health

ACP member Christian A. Gericke, MD, PhD, MPH, MSc, MBA, FACP has a dual passion for neurology and public health. Within policy, Christian’s work is motivated by health policy and management, safety and quality, and access to affordable medicines. This passion has led him to work on international consultancy projects with development aid and with agencies such as the World Health Organization. For several years, he also taught neurology intensives to internal medicine residents in the Pacific Islands.

From a young age, Christian knew he wanted to study medicine because he liked the complexity of advancing scientific knowledge while helping people and making an impact. He is now doing that as the current Director of Health Research and Translation at Calvary Health Care in Newcastle, Australia.

His best advice to students pursuing medicine is that many side avenues within medicine can enrich your life and career. It’s best to explore them.

Traveling The Globe for Medical School and Training

Internal medicine offers numerous opportunities to practice and train worldwide, allowing physicians like Chalunkal Mathai Mathew MD, MRCP (UK), FACP, CPL to experience the intricacies of global health firsthand. He began medical school and postgraduate training in Mumbai, India for both his MBBS and MD degrees. He moved to the UK to further his training, completing a fellowship program in rheumatology and obtaining his MRCP degree. He became an attending physician in Oman before relocating to the United States to complete another residency, ultimately leading him to his current positions as a hospitalist, PCP, and core faculty and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke's University Health Network Anderson Campus in Easton, PA.

For internal medicine physicians who begin their medical training outside of the U.S., like Dr. Mathew, a global training experience can help improve global health through broader knowledge and skill building, an increased understanding of health disparities, and stronger cultural competencies when addressing patient care.

Ashley McKenzie (née Fellers), now a resident physician at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, Co, encourages medical students to consider global health rotations, like her experience studying and working in Tanzania in 2023. For Ashley, this experience provided a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of the Tanzania health system and the innovative strategies doctors rely on to provide the best care possible with limited resources.

"For any students considering an international rotation, I highly recommend it. It provided a new learning environment with unique challenges and allowed me and my classmates to learn from and befriend amazing people."

For current medical student, Tionna Szymanski, traveling to Panama during her first year in medical school reminded her of the importance of community in practicing medicine. It also opened her eyes to the economic barriers patients are facing and the lengths they go to access care, and the flexibility necessary to practice medicine with limited access to the tools Tionna relies on daily.

“This experience impacted how I want to practice medicine. As a physician, I will strive to improve the lives of those less fortunate and work to achieve health equity for all.”