What is Internal Medicine?

Dr. Matt Vaughan DVM, DACVIM answers questions to help explain how his practice helps return your pet to its best life.

Q: If you had to describe the internal medicine department at VRCCO to a pet-parent, how would you describe it?

A: The internal medicine department sees complex cases that either need advanced testing for diagnosis or may have complicated ongoing medical management needs. Many patients may have more than one condition that requires experience and expertise in managing multiple disease processes at the same time. Some of the types of cases that are seen include endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), intestinal disease, urinary tract disease, respiratory disease, auto-immune disorders, liver disease and infectious diseases. Internal Medicine specialists have gone through four years of veterinary school followed by a one-year internship and then a three-year residency where they gain intensive training in Internal Medicine.

Q: How does internal medicine differ from primary care/general veterinary clinic?

A: We typically focus on diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders and not on preventative care measures or other (surgical, dental, etc) disorders. Many cases that are seen require advanced diagnostic testing that is not available at most primary care clinics such as endoscopy, ultrasound and CT. 

Q: How does the internal medicine department work with the other departments within VRCCO (emergency/surgery/oncology etc)? What is the benefit of having all of these services/specialties under one roof?

A: Many diseases or illnesses may not clearly fall into one specialty or department. Having multiple specialists available under one roof allows for seamless collaboration between speciality departments.  For instance, a diagnosis of cancer may be made in the internal medicine department after which we can immediately collaborate with the surgery and oncology departments to come together and provide multiple opinions on best treatment options and outcomes.

Q: What sets the internal medicine department at VRCCO apart from other veterinary practices?

A: At VRCCO we have multiple Internists which allows for collaboration on difficult cases as well as 24/7 coverage to support the ER service and allow for seeing patients 5 days a week. We also work with numerous other specialists under one roof (surgery, dermatology, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, emergency) allowing for further collaboration. Finally, we have advanced diagnostic equipment available to allow for cutting edge diagnostics and treatments including CT, MRI, fluoroscopy, endoscopy, laser lithotripsy and interventional radiology procedures.

Q: Why did you choose internal medicine as a specialty?

A: I chose internal medicine due to the variety and complexity of cases that are seen. In addition, with chronic disease management, we get to develop strong bonds with patients and their families which is incredibly rewarding.

bend veterinarian with golden retriever