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Medical Practice

Physician-patient Relationship, Clinical Skills, Diagnosing Disease, Patient Care, Assessing Treatment, Accountability

Physician-patient relationship

Clinical skills

Diagnosing disease

Patient care

Assessing treatment


Guidelines to practicing medicine

Teaching and research

Types of practices

Professional hazards

Physician remuneration

Many years of study, a long interval of training, and a lifetime of dedicated service are required in order to become a good physician. It is therefore essential that a premedical student have an overview of the nature of the medical profession. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways, including (1) reading about the activities of medical students, physicians-in-training, and those in practice (see bibliography); (2) talking with medical students and doctors; and (3) performing volunteer work in a hospital.

This chapter seeks to supplement the aforementioned approaches by discussing the most basic elements of medical practice.

The practice of medicine is a combination of both science and art. The scientific component involves the application of technological modalities in solving clinical problems. This requires the judicious use of (1) biochemical methods, (2) biophysical imaging techniques, and (3) therapeutic modalities—areas that have seen remarkable advances over the past decade. Competence in utilizing these areas, while essential, does not meet all the requirements of a good practitioner. What is needed, in addition to the aforementioned elements, is the ability to extract vital information from a mass of contradictory signs and computer-generated data in order to arrive at a tentative diagnosis and determine an appropriate course of action. This involves deciding whether to actively pursue a clinical clue or merely to continue observing as well as judging, if treating the condition involves a greater risk than not treating it at all. This combination of knowledge, judgment, and intuition is the key to the art of medicine.

Medical practice requires scientific knowledge, technical skill, and human understanding. The last quality involves treating the patient with tact and sympathy and realizing that a patient is a human being, not merely a collection of symptoms, damaged organs, and/or disturbed emotions. The physician must recognize that the patient is, at the same time, fearful and hopeful, and in need of relief, assistance, and reassurance. To meet this challenge, the physician must genuinely care for people.

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