The future of medicine is deeply rooted in the very thing that underpins its success : science. Just imagine this. Kidney disease was once considered as the consequence of evil spirits, wicked deeds, a malicious deity or some other such influence, it is now viewed as a material problem : the failure in a biological organ that should be filtering, cleaning and adjusting the body fluids. Doctors are now trained, not as a priest nor a shaman but as technicians skilled at diagnosing and fixing failing body mechanisms.
Doctors need sophisticated equipment such as brain scanners, fetal monitors, endoscopes, lasers, radioactive chemicals and computers to pursue this job. Not only will have the doctors take their time in learning to handle these machines, the safety problem involved in the operation also draws much attention. Although patients may be grateful to receive this form of improved treatment, most people do not find it sufficient. They need someone prepared to relate to them on a spiritual and human level, and is able to share their distress.
Some commentators comment that modern medicine has taken a wrong path. It now depends on an education that demands high skills in scientific subjects. Obviously under this system doctors who see themselves as a scientist are produced. It may not produce what is so often needed, someone who can care.
Medicine thus faces a great challenge : to make full use of technology without losing human contact that has to be part of any satisfactory system of healthcare. Teaching medical students how to communicate with their patients has become a priority among the possible remedies. Some medical schools even make use of role playing sessions to train their students to focus on their patients during consultation rather than the illness.
Other doctors are turning to complementary medicine, seeking to retain their scientific approach to disease while recognizing that science by itself does not solve all problems. These include ways such as reconsidering the architecture of hospitals, to bring art into wards and also to fashion new relationships in which the wishes and feelings of patients are taken into serious consideration. The success of these and other moves will decide whether the public sees medicine as in broad sympathy with their needs, or as an enterprise from which it feels evermore alienated.
The doctors' dilemma is made no easier by a widespread of science and technology in general. In spite of their impact on the way we live, ignorance about them is commonly found. Medical science suffers by false associations and by tragedies and misapplications, such as the misuse of life supporting systems and the exploitation of unwitting patients as experimental subjects, and so on.
Some people consider seeking alternative forms of health care as the appropriate solution to this. To the extent that this is a rejection of what is wrong with orthodox medicine it is sensible and desirable. Some of the bewildering variety of complementary therapies now available -- radionics, for example, or the alleged benefits of wearing a crystal -- can appeal only to the credulous.
The sheer ingenuity of scientific medicine has also created a raft of new ethical dilemmas.
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National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine - NCCAM