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This essay explores the claim that the general public’s belief in medical experts has diminished and that we no longer need them. The essay begins by outlining what has been the traditional role of experts in the medical knowledge society and who they were. The second section explores what has happened to cast doubt on their role. The third section looks at the conflicting arguments as to whether we still do or do not need them. The last section will look at where the balance lies between these two arguments.

Traditionally, medical practitioners such as doctors, general practitioners, consultants, surgeons, midwives, nurses and health visitors have always been the main figureheads in the medical world that are perceived as the professionals by the general public. We expect all of these people to have received the required specialized medical training and knowledge to hold a licence to practise medicine that permits them to legally prescribe drugs and treatment to which patients would not otherwise have access. They all have the status of a medical expert; however more so-called alternative medical experts and complementary health practices have begun to emerge from other fields such as in holistic medicine, homeopathy, reflexology, acupuncture, herbalism and traditional Chinese medicine. Even lay-people have a certain amount of common-sense medical knowledge, especially that of a mother which is often seen as a natural maternal gift. The difference here though is that this is classed as subjective knowledge because that knowledge is purely dependant on one’s own personal experience. For the medical expert their role has been to draw upon their medical training and expertise, coupled with scientific knowledge and common sense and come to a conclusion on how best to treat a particular problem in the patient that is presented before them.

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