Medicine is both an area of knowledge (a science), and the application of that knowledge (the medical profession). The various specialized branches of the science of medicine correspond to equally specialized medical professions dealing with particular organs or diseases. The science of medicine is the body of knowledge about body systems and diseases, while the profession of medicine refers to the social structure of the group of people formally trained to apply that knowledge to treat disease.
There are traditional and schools of healing which are usually not considered to be part of (Western) medicine in a strict sense (see health science for an overview). The most highly developed systems of medicine outside of the Western or Hippocratic tradition are the Ayurvedic school (of India) and traditional Chinese medicine. The remainder of this article focuses on modern (Western) medicine.
The scope and sciences underpinning human medicine overlap many other fields. Dentistry and psychology, while separate disciplines from medicine, are sometimes also considered medical fields. Physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives treat patients and prescribe medication in many legal jurisdictions. Veterinary medicine applies similar techniques to the care of animals.
Medical doctors have many specializations and subspecializations which are listed below.
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.
Bioethics is a field of study which concerns the relationship between biology, science, medicine and ethics, philosophy and theology.
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.
Histology is the study of the structures of biological tissues by light microscopy, electron microscopy and histochemistry.
Immunology is the study of the immune system, which includes the innate and adaptive immune system in human, for example.
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, including protozoa, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Neuroscience is a comprehensive term for 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.
Pathology is the study of disease - the causes, course, progression and resolution thereof.
Interventional radiology is concerned with using imaging of the human body, usually from CT, ultrasound, or fluoroscopy, to do biopsies, place certain tubes, and perform intravascular procedures.
Nuclear Medicine uses radioactive substances for in vivo and in vitro diagnosis using either imaging of the location of radioactive substances placed into a patient, or using in vitro diagnostic tests utilizing radioactive substances.
Dermatology is concerned with the skin and its diseases.
Emergency medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of acute or life-threatening conditions, including trauma, surgical, medical, pediatric, and psychiatric emergencies.
General practice or family medicine or primary care is, in many countries, the first port-of-call for patients with non-emergency medical problems. Family doctors are usually able to treat over 90% of all complaints without referring to specialists.
Intensive care medicine is concerned with the therapy of patients with serious and life-threatening disease or injury. Intensive care medicine employs invasive diagnostic techniques and (temporary) replacement of organ functions by technical means.
Internal medicine is concerned with diseases of inner organs and systemic dieseases of adults, i.e. such that affect the body as a whole. There are several subdisciplines of internal medicine:
Cardiology is concerned with the heart and cardiovascular system and their diseases.
Clinical pharmacology is concerned with how systems of therapeutics interact with patients.
Obstetrics and gynecology are concerned respectively with childbirth and the female reproductive and associated organs. Reproductive medicine and fertility medicine is generally practiced by gynecological specialists.
Pediatrics (or paediatrics) is devoted to the care of children, and adolescents. Like internal medicine, there are many pediatric supspecialities for specific age ranges, organ systems, disease classes and sites of care delivery. Most subspecialities of adult medicine have a pediatric equivalent such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric hematology, and pediatric oncology.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation (or physiatry) is concerned with functional improvement after injury, illness, or congenital abnormality.
Radiation therapy is concerned with the therapeutic use of ionizing radiation and high energy elementary particle beams in patient treatment.
Surgical specialties - there are many medical disciplines that employ operative treatment. Some of these are highly specialized and are often not considered subdisciplines of surgery, although their naming might suggest so.
General surgery is the specialty of surgery of the skin, locomotor system, and abdominal organs. In the past, it was deemed the pre-requisite training prior to progression to other sub-specialty training, but lately has evolved into its own sub-specialty.
Cardiovascular surgery is the surgical specialty that is concerned with the heart and major blood vessels of the chest.
Neurosurgery is concerned with the operative treatment of diseases of the nervous system.
Oromaxillofacial surgery (technically a subspeciality of dentistry)
Ophthalmology deals with the diseases of the eye and their treatment.
Otolaryngology (or otorhinolaryngology or ENT/ear-nose-throat) is concerned with treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders.
Plastic surgery includes aesthetic surgery (operations that are done for other than medical purposes) as well as reconstructive surgery (operations to restore function and/or appearance after traumatic or operative mutilation).
Surgical Oncology is concerned with ablative and palliative surgical approaches to cancer treatment
Urology focuses on the urinary tracts of males and females, and on the male reproductive system. It is often practiced together with andrology ("men's health").
Medicine is a diverse field and the provision of medical care is therefore provided in a variety of locations. In addition to inpatient hospital settings, medical services are often provided in locations such as emergency departements, endoscopy departments, outpatients department, operating theaters, and birth suites. Modern medical care also depends on information still delivered in many health care settings on paper records, but with increasing frequency by electronic means.
Medical training is involves several years of university study followed by several more years of residential practice at a hospital. Entry to a medical degree in some countries (such as the United States) requires the completion of another degree first, while in other countries (such as the Source | Copyright