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The practice concerned with the maintenance of health and the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Medicine may be practiced in doctors' offices, health maintenance organization facilities, hospitals, and clinics. In addition to family practice, internal medicine, and specialties for specific body systems, it includes research, public health, epidemiology, and pharmacology. Each country sets its own requirements for medical degrees (M.D.'s) and licenses. Medical boards and councils set standards and oversee medical education. Boards of certification have stringent requirements for physicians seeking to practice a specialty, and they stress continuing education. Advances in therapy (seetherapeutics) and diagnosis have raised complex legal and moral issues in areas such as abortion, euthanasia, and patients' rights. Recent changes include treating patients as partners in their own care and taking cultural factors into consideration.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on medicine, visit Britannica.com.