The 19th century saw increasing professionalization and specialization of medicine. Professionalization raised standards and care through education and surveillance. Specialization resulted in better care for specific diseases. These trends continue today.
Are there disadvantages as well as advantages to these trends and what, in your opinion, are these advantages and disadvantages?
Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit of Mankind, p.304-396
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Porter writes of his history of medicine that most traditional healing systems sought to understand the relations of the sick person as one a the wider cosmos, the western medical tradition, about which he book is concerned, explains sickness principally in terms of the body as the sole source:
...the flourishing anatomical and physiological programs created a new confidence among investigators that everything that needed to be known could essentially be discovered by probing more deeply and ever more minutely into the flesh, its systems, tissues, cells, its DNA.
This thinking, then, has led to specialization in medicine and increasing professionalism. At the same time, the medical field has become subjected to the errors of capitalism as Porter perceives it as a medical industrial complex in which economic interests and pursuits in the science of medicine take precedence over healing of humanity:
The personal touch so essential to healing, has been lost! This transition from small man to corporate enterprise is the result, in part, of those giant strides in basic and clinical research, and the pharmacological and surgical revolutions discussed in the preceding chapters... The medical machine has acquired an extraordinary momentum.
While specialization in medicine provides greater knowledge in one area of treating patients, it also eliminates knowledge of a person's general overall health. Certainly, there is not the close/doctor patient relationship that develops when a person has a general practitioner, a relationship that can improve a patient's well-being because of confidence in the physician, as well as the feeling that the doctor truly cares about the patient. Along with these disadvantages, the more lucrative fields of specialization have drawn too many and such fields as urology are glutted while there is now a shortage of general practitioners in some areas. Because of the economic opportunities, some are drawn to the medical field who are less concerned with helping humanity than their self-serving ideals.
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