Art strictly speaking is an expression of imagination and skill. It can also be an application. This is, I believe, is why some consider medicine as an art comes in. To heal is medicine’s purpose. How to arrive at that healing in the shortest and most effective way is where the art and application comes in. The practice of medicine dates back to the years of antiquity when Ayurveda (life science in Sanskrit) and Ayurvedic or herbal form of medicine was used. Although still used to this day, many have turned their backs from it, relying on modern medicine.
There are two opposing camps exist in classifying medicine. Those that believe that it is a pure science and one who considers medicine an art . It is a science because of the systematic study needed to practice this profession. It is an evidence based application of knowledge and understanding backed years of study and training. The word science itself means knowledge.
Medicine as an art form
Part of classifying medicine as an art is the relationship that one builds and nurtures. Some of the most lingering relationships is that of a GP to a particular family which coined the term ‘family doctor’. Because not all medical procedures is from emergencies. These relationships are from birth to death, especially in small towns. The progression of their lives and their medical history is equally important for the practice of the profession. All the tests and laboratory results and explaining things to a patient with a medical image has improved and evolved. Much of what heals a patient is a complementary dose of caring, of reassuring them that things will turn out okay.
Medicine, then, is both a science and an art. To gain the skill, science is involved. Studying methods, step by step procedures and analytical observation needed to perform life saving measures. To practice the skill requires not just tests and laboratory results but also a caring heart. Even if the treatment is effective in theory, if the patient does not take it because they mistrust the doctor then that is a failed attempt at healing.