Interdisciplinary Medicine

As indicated above, we are just beginning to understand the extraordinary complexity of our world. Many of the new advances in technology have been due to the work of the interdisciplinary team, which has much greater knowledge than does any single investigator. Such a team could be composed of as few as two scientific fields, such as engineering and computer science for a new surgical instrument, or a large complex organization of computational mathematicians, engineers, biochemists, molecular biologists, statisticians, and clinical practitioners, such as the team approach for research in artificial organs. This also extends to the operating room, where surgical procedures are attaining a complexity that requires a team approach of anesthesiologist, surgeon, nurse, technician, etc., although new research in robotics may soon integrate the functions of the entire team into a single robotic system of surgeon, assistant surgeon, scrub nurse, and circulating nurse, all controlled by the surgeon at a surgical console outside the operating room without people. There may also be the sharing of responsibility when performing a procedure; for example, in vascular stenting of carotid arteries, should it be the surgeon, interventional radiologist, cardiologist, or a team composed of all three?

The challenge will be to craft strong, interdisciplinary teams. For the researcher it will be of colleagues in other major fields of science, and for the clinician it will be forging and training a smoothly functioning interdisciplinary team in the operating room, clinic, or office.

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