Our World In Medicine Essay Research Paper

Our World In Medicine Essay, Research Paper

Our World In Medicine

One of the most important factors about people’s lives is the

information of, the use of, and the growing knowledge of medicine. Medicine is

a science that nations all over the world use. It is a science because it is

based on knowledge gained through careful study and experimentation. Medicine

is also an art form because it depends on how skillfully doctors and other

medical workers apply their knowledge when dealing with patients.1

Medicine is one of the most respected professions. The two important

goals of medicine are to save lives and to relieve suffering, which is why it is

so respected. But the medical field is not open to anyone who wants to help.

It takes many long years of college and medical school to get even a license to

work with medicine.2 While some doctors are more important than others, almost

all of them are on call twenty – four hour a day, seven days a week. Because

they have to apply themselves to their job at all times, they are payed at very

good wages.

Human beings have been suffering from disease since they first appeared

on the earth about two and one -half million years ago. Throughout most of this

time, they knew little about how the human body works or what causes disease.

But medicine has gone through many stages throughout history.

In prehistoric times, people believed that angry gods or evil spirits

caused disease. To cure the sick, the gods had to be pacified or the evil

spirits driven from the body. In time, this task became the job of the first

“physicians”.3 The first – known surgical treatment was an operation called

trephining. Trephining involved use of a stone instrument to cut a hole in a

patient’s skull. Scientists have found fossils of such skulls that date back as

far as 10,000 years.

Prehistoric people probably also discovered that many plants can be used

as drugs. For example, the use of willow bark to relieve pain probably dates

back thousands of years.4 Today, scientists know that willow bark contains the

important ingredients that is included in making aspirin.

In the Middle East, the Egyptians began making important medical

progress. Around 2500 B.C., Egyptian physicians began to specialize. Some

physicians treated only diseases of the eyes or teeth. Others specialized in

internal diseases. Egyptian surgeons produced a textbook that told how to treat

dislocated or fractured bones and as well as tumors, ulcers, and wounds.5

The civilization of ancient Greece was at its peak during the 400’s B.C.

Throughout this period, sick people flocked to temples dedicated to the Greek

god of healing, Asclepius, seeking magical cures.6 But at the same time, the

great Greek physician Hippocrates began showing that disease has only natural

causes. He thus became the first physician known to consider medicine a science

and art separate from the practice of religion. The Hippocratic oath, an

expression of early medical ethics, reflects Hippocrates’ high ideals.7

The Greek physician Galen made the most important contributions to

medicine in Roman times. Galen performed experiments on animals and used his

findings to develop the first medical theories based on scientific experiments.

For this reason, he is considered the founder of experimental medicine. But

because his knowledge of anatomy was based on animal experiments, Galen

developed many false notions about how the human body works.8

During the Middle Ages, which lasted from the A.D. 400’s to the 1500’s,

the Muslim Empire of Southwest and Central Asia contributed greatly to medicine.

Rhazes, a Persian – born physician of the late 800’s and early 900’s, wrote the

first accurate descriptions of measles and smallpox. Avicenna, an Arab

physician of the late 900’s and early 1000’s, produced a medical encyclopedia

called Canon of Medicine. It summed up the medical knowledge of the time and

accurately described many known diseases. Avicenna’s work became popular in

Europe, where it influenced medical education for more than 600 years.9

The chief medical advances during the Middle Ages were the founding of

many hospitals and the first university medical schools. In the 900’s, a

medical school was started in Salerno, Italy. It became the chief center of

medical learning in Europe during the 1000’s and 1100’s. Other important

medical schools developed after 1100. During the 1100’s and 1200’s, many of

these schools became part of newly developing universities.10

A new scientific spirit developed during the Renaissance, 1300’s to the

1600’s. The laws against human dissection were totally relaxed during this

period. As a result, the first truly scientific studies of the human body

began.11 A French army doctor named Ambroise Par? improved surgical techniques

to such an extent that he is considered the father of modern surgery. For

example, instead of burning a wound to prevent infection, he developed the much

more effective method of applying ointment and then allowing the wound to heal


The scientific study of disease, called pathology, was developed during

the 1800’s. Rudolf Virchow, a German physician and scientist, led the

development. Virchow believed that the only way to understand the nature of

disease was by close examination of the affected body cells. He did important

research in such diseases as leukemia and tuberculosis.13 Pasteur, a

brilliant French chemist, proved that microbes are living organisms and that

certain kinds of microbes cause disease. He also proved that killing specific

microbes stops the spread of specific diseases. Koch, a German physician,

invented a method for determining which bacteria cause particular diseases.

Other research scientists followed the lead of these two pioneers.

Pasteur’s early work on bacteria convinced an English surgeon named

Joseph Lister that germs caused many of the deaths of surgical patients. In

1865, Lister began using carbolic acid, a powerful disinfectant, to sterilize

surgical wounds. But this method was replaced by a more efficient technique

known as aseptic surgery. This technique involved keeping germs away from

surgical wounds in the first place instead of trying to kill germs already


Advances in many fields of science and engineering have created a

medical revolution in the 1900’s. For example, the discovery of X-rays by the

German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen enabled doctors to see inside the human body

to diagnose illnesses and injuries. The discovery of radium in 1898 provided a

powerful weapon against cancer.15

The development of new vaccines has helped control the spread of such

infectious diseases as polio, hepatitis, and measles. During the 1960’s and

1970’s, the World Health Organization conducted a vaccination program that

eliminated smallpox from the world.

Much progress in modern medicine has resulted from engineering advances.

Engineers have developed a variety of instruments and machines to aid doctors in

the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and disorders. Some of

these devices have helped surgeons develop amazing new lifesaving techniques,

especially in the fields of heart surgery and tissue transplants.16

Throughout many, many centuries, medicine has been used in hundreds of

different forms. But the main goal of every different form was the same, to

help the diseased and unhealthy. Every passing day, another scientist or doctor

discovers another breakthrough in science and medicine. In years to come, we

will have cures to incurable diseases, and people will be living ten to twenty

years longer then they are today. Medicine provides us with the needs and hopes

for the future, as our technology makes the path for us to follow.


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