What is medicine? Definition, fields, and branches

Medicine is the field of health and healing. It includes nurses, doctors, and various specialists. It covers diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, medical research, and many other aspects of health.

Medicine aims to promote and maintain health and wellbeing.

Conventional modern medicine is sometimes called allopathic medicine. It involves the use of drugs or surgery, often supported by counseling and lifestyle measures.

Alternative and complementary types of medicine include acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, art therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, and many more.

Modern medicine has many fields and aspects. Here are some of them.

Clinical practice

A clinician is a health worker who works directly with patients in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Nurses, doctors, psychotherapists, and other specialists are all clinicians.

Not all medical specialists are clinicians. Researchers and laboratory workers are not clinicians because they do not work with patients.

The physician assesses the individual, with the aim of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease using knowledge learned from training, research, and experiences, and clinical judgment.

Biomedical research

This area of science seeks ways to prevent and treat diseases that lead to illness or death.

Biomedical scientists use biotechnology techniques to study biological processes and diseases. They aim to develop successful treatments and cures.

Biomedical research requires careful experimentation, development, and evaluation. It involves biologists, chemists, doctors, pharmacologists, and others.

Medications

This field looks at drugs or medicines and how to use them.

Doctors and other health professionals use medications in the medical diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of disease.

Surgery

Surgical procedures are necessary for diagnosing and treating some types of disease, malfomation, and injury. They use instrumental and manual means rather than medication.

A surgeon may carry out a surgical procedure to remove or replace diseased tissue or organs, or they may use surgery to remove tissue for biopsy. Sometimes, they remove unwanted tissue and then send it for diagnosis.

Medical devices

Health professionals use a wide range of instruments to diagnose and treat a disease or other condition, to prevent a worsening of symptoms, to replace a damaged part — such as a hip or a knee — and so on.

Medical devices range from test tubes to sophisticated scanning machines.

Alternative and complementary medicine

This includes any practice that aims to heal but is not part of conventional medicine. Techniques range widely. They include the use of herbs, manipulation of “channels” in the body, relaxation, and so on.

Alternative and complementary do not have the same meaning:

Alternative medicine: People use a different option from the conventional one, such as using relaxation measures to improve headaches, rather than pain relief medication.

Complementary medicine: People add another treatment option to a main treatment. For example, they may use relaxation as well as pain relief medication for a headache.

Alternative and complementary therapies are often based on traditional knowledge, rather than scientific evidence or clinical trials.

Examples include homeopathy, acupuncture, ayurveda, naturopathic medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Clinical research

Researchers carry out investigations to

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