Internal Medicine: A Look inside the Human Body

Jun 14, 2024

Were you aware that the name “internal medicine” stems from the German equivalent of “Innere Medizin”?

The historical origins of the discipline of internal medicine lie in 19th century Germany when scientific principles intersected with medicine. Unlike earlier physicians who dissected cadavers, physicians emphasized understanding internal mechanisms and causes of symptoms. This led to internal medicine’s focus shifting to a more scientific approach as opposed to mere speculation.

Today, internal medicine is the world’s largest medical specialty, with nearly 200,000 internal medicine physicians practicing in the United States. Internists specialize in managing patients with a wide variety of ailments, which was reflected in the schedule for this week’s OMI seminar.

The Internal Medicine seminar is part of a three-year curriculum during which each year’s courses’ themes shift continuously. The focus of the 2024 seminar was placed on Cardiology, Nephrology, and Hematology (Non-Malignant Hematologic Disorders). The 36 fellows from 26 countries learned about kidney diseases, various cases of anemia, heart failure, small vessel vasculitis, as well as mechanical circulatory support devices.

The course was led by an impressive faculty with Dr. Kristin M. Burkart, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship Program at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, serving as course director and Dr. Guenter Weiss, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Department of Internal Medicine II (Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Rheumatology, Pneumology) at the Medical University of Innsbruck, as co-course director. The US part of the faculty was made up of Dr. Imo J. Akpan, Dr. Kelly M. Axsom, and Dr. Hilda E. Fernandez. The Austrian part of the faculty consisted of Dr. Clemens Feistritzer, Dr. Andreas Kronbichler, and Dr. Sebastian J. Reinstadler.

The experienced course directors worked together to provide the fellows with an extraordinary week of education and updates in the modern principles of internal medicine. The fellows especially enjoyed the three interactive case presentation sessions on Friday, which provided them with the opportunity to discuss real life scenarios with the faculty.

Course director Dr. Burkart portrayed the group of participants:

“The fellows’ exceptional engagement, insightful questions, and enthusiasm for learning, showcasing the dedication and excellence of young physicians worldwide, made this seminar stand out. By the end of the week, I felt as if the global medical community was closer, making the world feel smaller.”

The commitment of our faculty is truly a remarkable trait! In addition to lecturing in Salzburg, the faculty traveled to Innsbruck on Wednesday to partake in a medical lecture series by the Medical University of Innsbruck. They were welcomed to the conference by Dr. W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker, President of the Medical University of Innsbruck. The lectures presented by the OMI faculty were the following: “How I Approach Immune Thrombocytopenia” by Dr. Akpan, “Heart Failure Management: Transitioning from Reactive to Proactive Care” by Dr. Axsom, “Transitions of Care for Adolescents with Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract” by Dr. Fernandez, and “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Proven Practices and Evolving Strategies in 2024” by Dr. Burkart. The final discussion, which was led by Dr. Weiss, inspired the 20 participants.

We would like to thank our dedicated faculty for going the extra mile to share their knowledge with medical professionals in Innsbruck as well as the Medical University Innsbruck for hosting such a successful event!

“Dr. Reinstadler gave insightful lectures on two heart conditions that are very prevalent in my home country. I definitely learned a lot and gained valuable lessons that I can use to support my patients in Mexico.”
Claudia Aline Navarrete López, MD

OMI fellow from Mexico

“I had the wonderful opportunity to engage in a stimulating conversation with Dr. Fernandez. Her invaluable guidance and encouragement in pursuing my interest in chronic kidney disease provided me with a clear direction for my future clinical practice.”
Nghi Vinh Le, MD

OMI fellow from Vietnam

“The last day was filled with interactive clinical case discussions with other fellows and faculty members, providing useful tips to improve our daily clinical practices.”
Kristi Saliaj, MD

OMI fellow from Albania