In my days as a biology student at Birmingham I did a physiology course in
the medical school. Although the department was nominally part of the
Biological Sciences department, the style of teaching was markedly
To put it simply, we were taught facts in much the same way you would be at
school. In the rest of my degree I was taught science as a process, with an
appreciation of the progression of knowledge and the philosophy of science.
Medics who took biology options were equally struck by the comparison,
This may not be typical (especially as we're going back 15 years), but I
think the different philosophies of medicine and biology teaching were clear
and I think this is manifested in the medical/clinical research.
I worry about clinical research in that I suspect that it is carried out in
many cases without a proper grounding in the process of science and much
aptitude of even enthusiasm among its practitioners (from what I can gather
clinical research is often carried out to enhance career prospects by
Having said that, I'm not sure that this is the reason for the differences
between science and medical journalists. Environment and engineering also
covered by distinct groups of journalists.
>From: "M.J. Pearson" <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Science vs medicine - ? miles apart?
>Date: Fri, Oct 20, 2000, 10:32 am
> I see medicine as (largely) applied science, although it depends on which
> area you're talking about. Anaesthetics is a highly scientific area, I
> imagine - the drugs, equipment and monitoring processes you use. Other
> areas are probably rather less so - General Practice, for example.
> A former clinical colleague of mine reckoned that this may well be so, but
> insisted that the practice of medicine is an art. Seems fair enough to me -
> as a Clinical Scientist! Obviously, I don't know what exactly MK meant,
> but while I know how much science medics do at the beginning of their MB
> ChB (I used to teach it), we do sometimes feel that junior doctors have
> forgotten it all! That is no doubt very unfair to someone who hasn't slept
> a fortnight and is just trying to do his/her job, but I do think there's a
> difference in the way problems are approached.
> Dick will no doubt remember the Professor (now retired) of the department
> where he did his PhD - medically qualified, but having abandoned clinical
> practice long ago for the lab, and very scathing indeed in his view of the
> unscientific way clinicians do research.
>> > > as medicine and science are usually miles apart...
>> > I was surprised by this comment by MK -
>> Me too.
> ------- End of forwarded message -------
> Dr MJ Pearson
> Department of Clinical Biochemistry & Immunology
> Old Medical School
> Leeds General Infirmary (Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust)
> LEEDS LS1 3EX
> Tel 0113 392 3945