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Evolving medicine

It's that time of the year when virtually everyone talks of multiple tests that loom ahead, and various options before young people.

We just returned from a holiday. The host at our place of stay had quizzed us rather diligently, after we had had a rather delicious meal, about the prospects for her children who were about to graduate. She sounded anxious about some of the newer and fancier career options: her son was interested in head transplants (being tested in Italy in 2017) and her daughter was keen on the genetic study of the panda in China.

We got back home with a question on our minds: how relevant is medicine as a field of study in 2017?

Tiicky choices

The race to choose what is relevant in today’s times is a bit tricky. Over time it has been assumed that career paths in medicine and engineering are the ‘respectable’ and ‘safe’ ones.

Meanwhile a new set of options has come up, some of them earlier considered below par or even taboo. I was one of those who had followed the medical field passionately and it has worked out quite well.

Since Darwin

Medicine has significantly evolved from the time Charles Darwin, perhaps medicine's most famous dropout, provided the impetus for a subject that figures so rarely in medical education today, which he dealt with in his iconic book, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. The knowledge of disease and the science of treatment are also always evolving. As with any emerging field, ideas change and the science is also challenged perennially.

Medicine involves the complexities of the human body and mind.As a surgeon it excites me that there has been a paradigm shift from the days of my father (a doctor himself) who had been exposed a lot to open surgery, to my generation exposed to minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery where voice-activated robotic arms manoeuvre endoscopic cameras. Complex master-slave robotic systems approved by the Federal Drug Administration in the United States are marketed and used for various procedures.

My own field of vascular surgery has grown by leaps and bounds from the good ol’ days of simple amputations to the use of stem cell therapy for treatment of TAO (Thromboangiitis obliterans, also known as Buerger disease), endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) procedures with minimal mortality by means of peripheral angioplasty.

So in the time of start-ups and billion-dollar dreams, is medicine still relevant in 2017? I do think so. Indeed, the next 10 years will be an exciting combination of technology and science. So, suit up for a long ride into Medicine.

radsagar@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 1:36:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/evolving-medicine/article18191212.ece

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