Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine 9th Edition PDF
As medicine becomes more and more specialized, and moves further and further from the general physician, becoming increasingly subspecialized, it can be diffi cult to know where we fi t in to the general scheme of things. What ties a public health physician to a neurosurgeon? Why does a dermatologist require the same early training as a gastroenterologist? What makes an academic nephrologist similar to a general practitioner? To answer these questions we need to go back to the definition of a physician. The word physician comes from the Greek physica, or natural science, and the Latin physicus, or one who undertakes the study of nature.
A physician therefore is one who has studied nature and natural sciences, although the word has been adapted to mean one who has studied healing and medicine. We can think also about the word medicine, originally from the Latin stem med, to think or refl ect on. A medical person, or medicus, originally meant someone who knew the best course of action for a disease, having spent time thinking or reflecting on the problem in front of them. As physicians, we continue to specialize in ever more diverse conditions, complex scientific mechanisms, external interests ranging from academia to education, from public health and government policy to managerial posts. At the heart of this we should remember that all physicians enter into medicine with a shared goal, to understand the human body, what makes it go wrong, and how to treat that disease. We all study natural science, and must have a good evidence base for what we do, for without evidence, and knowledge, how are we to refl ect on the patient and the problem they bring to us, and therefore understand the best course of action to take?