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The medical sciences provide the scientific basis for the practice of medicine and are involved in the work carried out in physical health psychology

  • Basic sciences of medicine; this is what every physician is educated in, and some return to in biomedical research.

We include a list here of medical specialties and interdisciplinary fields,as they tend to generate their own rersearch canons.

Basic sciences

  • Anatomy is the study of the physical structure of organisms. In contrast to macroscopic or gross anatomy, cytology and histology are concerned with microscopic structures.
  • Biochemistry is the study of the chemistry taking place in living organisms, especially the structure and function of their chemical components.
  • Biostatistics is the application of statistics to biological fields in the broadest sense. A knowledge of biostatistics is essential in the planning, evaluation, and interpretation of medical research. It is also fundamental to epidemiology and evidence-based medicine.
  • Cytology is the microscopic study of individual cells.
  • Embryology is the study of the early development of organisms.
  • Epidemiology is the study of the demographics of disease processes, and includes, but is not limited to, the study of epidemics.
  • Genetics is the study of genes, and their role in biological inheritance.
  • Histology is the study of the structures of biological tissues by light microscopy, electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry.
  • Immunology is the study of the immune system, which includes the innate and adaptive immune system in humans, for example.
  • Medical physics is the study of the applications of physics principles in medicine.
  • Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, including protozoa, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  • Neuroscience includes those disciplines of science that are related to the study of the nervous system. A main focus of neuroscience is the biology and physiology of the human brain and spinal cord.
  • Nutrition science (theoretical focus) and dietetics (practical focus) is the study of the relationship of food and drink to health and disease, especially in determining an optimal diet. Medical nutrition therapy is done by dietitians and is prescribed for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, weight and eating disorders, allergies, malnutrition, and neoplastic diseases.
  • Pathology as a science is the study of disease—the causes, course, progression and resolution thereof.
  • Pharmacology is the study of drugs and their actions.
  • Physiology is the study of the normal functioning of the body and the underlying regulatory mechanisms.
  • Toxicology is the study of hazardous effects of drugs and poisons.

Specialties

Main article: Medical specialty

In the broadest meaning of "medicine", there are many different specialties. However, within medical circles, there are two broad categories: "Medicine" and "Surgery." "Medicine" refers to the practice of non-operative medicine, and most subspecialties in this area require preliminary training in "Internal Medicine". "Surgery" refers to the practice of operative medicine, and most subspecialties in this area require preliminary training in "General Surgery." There are some specialties of medicine that do not fit into either of these categories, such as:Anesthesia Pathology, Radiology which aree dicused below


Surgery

Surgical specialties employ operative treatment. In addition, surgeons must decide when an operation is necessary, and also treat many non-surgical issues, particularly in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU), where a variety of critical issues arise. Surgery has many subspecialties, e.g. general surgery, trauma surgery, cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery, maxillofacial surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, oncologic surgery, vascular surgery, and pediatric surgery. In some centers, anesthesiology is part of the division of surgery (for logistical and planning purposes), although it is not a surgical discipline.

Surgical training in the U.S. requires a minimum of five years of residency after medical school. Sub-specialties of surgery often require seven or more years. In addition, fellowships can last an additional one to three years. Because post-residency fellowships can be competitive, many trainees devote two additional years to research. Thus in some cases surgical training will not finish until more than a decade after medical school. Furthermore, surgical training can be very difficult and time consuming. A surgical resident's average work week is approximately 75 hours. Some subspecialties of surgery, such as neurosurgery, require even longer hours, and utilize an extension to the 80 hour regulated work week, allowing up to 88 hours per week. Many surgical programs still exceed this work hour limit. Attempts to limit the amount of hours worked has been difficult because of the large volume of patients who require surgical care, the limited amount of resources (including a shortage of people willing to enter into surgery as a career)[1], the need to perform long operations and still provide care to all pre- and post-operative patients, and the need to provide constant coverage in the OR, ICU, and ER.

Medicine

  • Internal medicine is concerned with systemic diseases of adults, i.e. those diseases that affect the body as a whole (restrictive, current meaning), or with all adult non-operative somatic medicine (traditional, inclusive meaning), thus excluding pediatrics, surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, and psychiatry. Practitioners of such specialties are referred to as physicians. There are several subdisciplines of internal medicine:

Generally, Pediatrics, family medicine and family practice are also considered to fall under the category of "Medicine".

Medical training, as opposed to surgical training, requires three years of residency training after medical school. This can then be followed by a one to two year fellowship in the subspecialties listed above. In general, resident work hours in medicine are less than those in surgery, averaging about 60 hours per week in the USA.

Diagnostic specialties

  • Clinical laboratory sciences are the clinical diagnostic services which apply laboratory techniques to diagnosis and management of patients. In the United States these services are supervised by a pathologist. The personnel that work in these medical laboratory departments are technically trained staff who do not hold medical degrees, but who usually hold an undergraduate medical technology degree, who actually perform the tests, assays, and procedures needed for providing the specific services. Subspecialties include Transfusion medicine, Cellular pathology, Clinical chemistry, Hematology, Clinical microbiology and Clinical immunology.
  • Pathology as a medical specialty is the branch of medicine that deals with the study of diseases and the morphologic, physiologic changes produced by them. As a diagnostic specialty, pathology can be considered the basis of modern scientific medical knowledge and plays a large role in evidence-based medicine. Many modern molecular tests such as flow cytometry, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunohistochemistry, cytogenetics, gene rearrangements studies and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) fall within the territory of pathology.
  • Radiology is concerned with imaging of the human body, e.g. by x-rays, x-ray computed tomography, ultrasonography, and nuclear magnetic resonance tomography.
  • Clinical neurophysiology is concerned with testing the physiology or function of the central and peripheral aspects of the nervous system. These kinds of tests can be divided into recordings of: (1) spontaneous or continuously running electrical activity, or (2) stimulus evoked responses. Subspecialties include Electroencephalography, Electromyography, Evoked potential, Nerve conduction study and Polysomnography. Sometimes these tests are performed by techs without a medical degree, but the interpretation of these tests is done by a medical professional.

Other

Following are some selected fields of medical specialties that don't directly fit into any of the above mentioned groups.

  • Ophthalmology exclusively concerned with the eye and ocular adnexa. Combines conservative and surgical therapy, and has its own College.
  • Dermatology is concerned with the skin and its diseases. In the UK, dermatology is a subspecialty of general medicine.
  • Emergency medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of acute or life-threatening conditions, including trauma, surgical, medical, pediatric, and psychiatric emergencies.
  • Obstetrics and gynecology (often abbreviated as OB/GYN) are concerned respectively with childbirth and the female reproductive and associated organs. Reproductive medicine and fertility medicine are generally practiced by gynecological specialists.
  • Palliative care is a relatively modern branch of clinical medicine that deals with pain and symptom relief and emotional support in patients with terminal illnesses including cancer and heart failure.
  • Pediatrics (AE) or paediatrics (BE) is devoted to the care of infants, children, and adolescents. Like internal medicine, there are many pediatric subspecialties for specific age ranges, organ systems, disease classes, and sites of care delivery.
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation (or physiatry) is concerned with functional improvement after injury, illness, or congenital disorders.
  • Psychiatry is the branch of medicine concerned with the bio-psycho-social study of the etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cognitive, perceptual, emotional and behavioral disorders. Related non-medical fields include psychotherapy and clinical psychology.

Interdisciplinary fields

Interdisciplinary sub-specialties of medicine are:

  • General practice, family practice, family medicine or primary care is, in many countries, the first port-of-call for patients with non-emergency medical problems.
  • Many other health science fields, e.g. dietetics
  • Bioethics is a field of study which concerns the relationship between biology, science, medicine and ethics, philosophy and theology.
  • Biomedical Engineering is a field dealing with the application of engineering principles to medical practice.
  • Clinical pharmacology is concerned with how systems of therapeutics interact with patients.
  • Conservation medicine studies the relationship between human and animal health, and environmental conditions. Also known as ecological medicine, environmental medicine, or medical geology.
  • Disaster medicine deals with medical aspects of emergency preparedness, disaster mitigation and management.
  • Diving medicine (or hyperbaric medicine) is the prevention and treatment of diving-related problems.
  • Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventive medicine.
  • Evolutionary medicine is a perspective on medicine derived through applying evolutionary theory.
  • Forensic medicine deals with medical questions in legal context, such as determination of the time and cause of death.
  • Gender-based medicine studies the biological and physiological differences between the human sexes and how that affects differences in disease.
  • Hospital medicine is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Physicians whose primary professional focus is hospital medicine are called hospitalists in the USA.
  • Medical humanities includes the humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice.
  • Medical informatics, medical computer science, medical information and eHealth are relatively recent fields that deal with the application of computers and information technology to medicine.
  • Nosology is the classification of diseases for various purposes.
  • Nosokinetics is the science/subject of measuring and modelling the process of care in health and social care systems.
  • Pain management (also called pain medicine) is the medical discipline concerned with the relief of pain.
  • Preventive medicine is the branch of medicine concerned with preventing disease.
    • Community health or public health is an aspect of health services concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis.
    • Occupational medicine's principal role is the provision of health advice to organizations and individuals to ensure that the highest standards of health and safety at work can be achieved and maintained.
    • Aerospace medicine deals with medical problems related to flying and space travel.
  • Osteopathic medicine, a branch of the U.S. medical profession.
  • Pharmacogenomics is a form of individualized medicine.
  • Sports medicine deals with the treatment and preventive care of athletes, amateur and professional. The team includes specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel, and, of course, the athlete.
  • Therapeutics is the field, more commonly referenced in earlier periods of history, of the various remedies that can be used to treat disease and promote health [1].
  • Travel medicine or emporiatrics deals with health problems of international travelers or travelers across highly different environments.
  • Professions complementing physicians
    • Nursing specialties: specialties performed by Nurses.
    • Mid-level practitioners: performance of medical sciences by other certified people than physicians or nurses; Nurse practitioners, practitioners of medical psychology, midwives and physician assistants, treat patients and prescribe medication in many jurisdictions.
    • Allied health professions: a diverse set of clinical healthcare professions distinct from medicine and nursing.
  • Urgent care focuses on delivery of unscheduled, walk-in care outside of the hospital emergency department for injuries and illnesses that are not severe enough to require care in an emergency department. In some jurisdictions this function is combined with the emergency room.
  • Veterinary medicine; veterinarians apply similar techniques as physicians to the care of animals.

See also

References & Bibliography

  1. Dorsey, et al., "Influence of Controllable Lifestyle on Recent Trends in Specialty Choice by US Medical Students

Key texts

Books

Papers

Additional material

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External links

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