What Is Medical Education?


Medical is a broad term used to describe many different sciences related to health and the human body. These include anatomy (the study of the structure of living things), pharmacology (the study of medicines and their effects) and biochemistry (the study of the chemical processes within living cells). Medicine also encompasses such disciplines as physiology, cytology and histology. The field of medical anthropology is concerned with the way culture and society relate to issues of health and disease.

A physician is someone who has been trained in the medical profession, and is licensed or registered by a medical board to practise medicine. Most countries have laws that restrict the practice of medicine to doctors who have been properly trained and qualified, as a safeguard against charlatans and other unqualified practitioners. This generally requires a university degree, medical board accreditation and passing a series of exams.

The earliest forms of medicine were religious in origin. Early church-funded universities helped to revive scientific studies and the study of anatomy. The Black Death of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries caused a change in thinking about science and medicine, with physicians like Vesalius improving upon or disproving theories put forward by earlier doctors such as Ptolemy.

Modern medicine is based on research, analysis and evidence. It aims to cure illness and prevent disease. It uses medicines, surgery and therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy. Medical scientists and researchers are constantly evaluating their results and searching for new and improved ways to treat or prevent disease.

Medical education is largely based on university degrees and clinical work, with students graduating as Doctors of Medicine (MD). The process is highly competitive, with only the best applicants being accepted onto medical courses. Students are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills and a breadth of knowledge in preparation for their future careers.

In addition to a formal university education, MDs are required to complete a number of hospital placements to learn practical techniques and gain experience. This provides a foundation for clinical work and research later in their career.

There are many subspecialties of medicine, focusing on specific organ systems and diseases. Internal medicine, for example, covers a wide range of problems, from heart disease to gastroenterology. Neurology deals with the brain and nervous system, while obstetrics and gynecology are concerned with pregnancy and female reproductive organs. The specialized field of clinical neurophysiology involves the recording of electrical activity in the brain, muscles and other structures, and includes such tests as electroencephalography, electromyography and evoked potentials. Other specialized fields include psychiatry and forensic medicine.