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Should we use the term "medicine" to refer to health care generally?

The media and others often use the terms "medicine" or "medical" to refer to health care generally. Some feel that these uses equate the practice of physicians with all health care, and disregard the contributions of nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and other professionals. They may also lead some to the mistaken conclusion that these other professions are subsets of or subordinate to medicine. We urge everyone not to use "medicine" when "health care" is meant.

In addition, many health care institutions are now called "Medical Centers," which arguably equates medicine with all health care. In fact, the majority of the care in most hospitals is not provided by physicians, but by other members of the health care team. We should work to change the names of these institutions to more inclusive ones such as "hospital," "health care center," or "health clinic," which do not suggest that the institutions belong to any one profession.

 

 


 

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