Medical treatment is the attempt to remediate a health problem or disease by using a variety of methods. It may include diet, lifestyle changes, medication and physical therapy. It also includes psychological and emotional support, such as psychotherapy.
There are many branches of medicine, some more common than others. Some are more focused on a particular disease, such as cardiology or neurology. Other fields deal with the underlying science of a disease, for example genetics and epidemiology.
The scientific disciplines of medicine overlap with a number of other sciences, but are separated by a common goal: to help people live long and healthy lives. They are often referred to as “basic sciences.”
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals study these basic scientific disciplines, which cover a broad range of subjects from the molecular level through to the more complex, physiological processes at play in the human body. They then return to these fields as biomedical researchers, generating new knowledge that can be applied to medicine.
Clinical trials are research studies that test the effectiveness of new treatments or drugs in people who have a specific illness, injury or condition. They are typically carried out by doctors and scientists in a hospital, laboratory or clinic setting.
They are regulated by government agencies, institutional review boards and professional standards. They are also protected by laws that require informed consent and legal standards of conduct.
In the United States, physicians are required to complete an academic degree (typically at a university) and pass a board examination before they can practice. They then undergo supervised training and often a period of vocational training in the specialty they wish to specialize in.
This education varies around the world, but most medical schools are recognized and accredited by their national governments. In the United States, a physician must earn a medical doctorate degree, usually abbreviated M.D., and in Canada, a doctor of osteopathy degree, usually abbreviated D.O. This degree is unique to that country and must be obtained from a recognized university.
These degrees are designed to prepare the physician for a career in medicine. They are often accompanied by postgraduate training.
Medical specialties are divisions of clinical medicine that focus on a specific aspect of patient care, such as surgery, radiology or endoscopy. These departments are staffed by a team of specialists who work together to provide comprehensive care for the patient.
They also have a significant role in research, as they are the primary source of scientific evidence on a given health issue or disease. For example, the discovery of the smallpox vaccine was largely the result of medical science.
Pathology is a medical specialty that deals with the study of the morphologic, physiologic changes produced by diseases and other disorders. It is a major part of evidence-based medicine, and involves the use of a wide range of techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, cytogenetics, gene rearrangements and fluorescent in situ hybridization.
Despite the importance of these scientific disciplines in modern medical practice and research, only one in 20 treatments has high-quality evidence to support their benefits, and even fewer have evidence that they are safe or effective for most patients. It is therefore essential that we generate higher-quality research on the most widely used treatments, and to measure their harms as rigorously as their potential benefits.