May 16, 2003

Oath taken by VUSM graduates

Featured Image

Joe Lopez, front, a graduate student in Virginia Shepherd's lab, received his Ph.D. in pathology, and Chris Lossin, a graduate student in Al George's lab, received his Ph.D. in neuoroscience, at the Graduate School ceremony last Friday. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Historically, young physicians graduating from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine have recited the Oath of Hippocrates at the end of their recognition ceremony. For several months the VUSM Class of 2003 worked to draft their own oath, one that represents their commitment to patients and colleagues as defined by the passions, experiences and ideals of their class.

The Professional Oath of The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Class of 2003

Recognizing the privilege of serving in the noble tradition of medicine, I swear to fulfill faithfully this oath and covenant:

I promise to serve my patients with charity and without discrimination, promoting their wellness and protecting them from harm. I will honor their autonomy by empowering them to make informed decisions consistent with their values. Accordingly I will strive to understand their unique social and cultural backgrounds, thereby attending to the context and complexity of their suffering. Understanding that I do not treat diagnoses or laboratory values, but individuals, I will remember that when the opportunity to treat disease ends, the opportunity to care for patients remains. I will endeavor to establish a secure and private alliance with my patients, knowing that my privileged role in their lives leaves them vulnerable before me. As their advocate, I will work to remedy any injustice, social or legal, that threatens their health. And, while attending to their illness of today, I will seek to prevent their illness of tomorrow.

Committing to the future of this profession, I pledge to pursue excellence in wisdom, skill, and compassion. Looking with esteem upon those who selflessly taught me the art and science of medicine, I will honor them by devoting myself to teaching and mentoring. To foster discovery, I will support research conducted in an ethical manner and will labor to distribute its products globally.

Remembering my humanity, I will practice with a humble awareness of my imperfections in knowledge and skill. I will not be ashamed to say “I know not” or to disclose when I have made an error. For the good of my patients, I will respectfully partner with physicians and health care professionals of all disciplines. Finally, I will also cultivate wellness in my own life, and in the lives of those closest to me.

For as long as I live and practice, I will strive to uphold consistently this covenant. Recognizing my dependence on my personal and professional communities, I invite all who know me, and of this oath, to hold me accountable to these ideals.