In my earlier years as a med student, for I am now in the final phase, I had always thought that the Hippocratic Oath and The Physicians’ Oath were one and the same. But it is very clear that both are not the same, especially in the wordings. It can however, be argued that both oaths have the same spirit and essence.
Hippocratic Oath (Modern Version)
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
This was, as written by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of School of Medicine at the Tufts University, 1964.
For more about Hippocratic Oath, READ HERE.
The more rigorous, antiquity called Hippocratic Oath, needed to be modified to stem the tide of irregularities that was observed in Nazi’s Germany. Also a newer, more savvy Oath, with modern wordings, needed to be implemented as the older oath was too cumbersome.
So after the World War II, a committee was drafted to prepare a new Medicine Charter, for the world, that would serve as the new oath to be taken by people before the are given license to practice Medicine. So after about 2 years of intense work, with subsequent approval by the General Assembly of World Medical Association in 1964, and after series of revision, the Physicians’ Oath reads as follows;
At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:
- I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
- I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
- I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
- The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
- I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
- I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
- My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
- I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
- I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
- I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
- I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.
For more about the Physicians’ Oath, READ HERE.