I recently had the opportunity to attend the White Coat Ceremony at Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Medicine. It is the ceremonial launch of the new class of medical students from my alma mater, and it was a privilege to stand with students and fellow physicians and recite the Declaration of Geneva.
The Declaration, which has largely replaced the Hippocratic Oath as the way of initiating young physicians into our profession, was written and adopted by the World Medical Association in 1948 in response to the medical atrocities of Nazi Germany during World War II.
The Declaration eloquently states many of the truths I’ve held dear throughout my 25 years of being a doctor. And it pays homage to what I consider the key element of being a loving physician—a deep sense of service to my patients. I share it with you because it is a beautiful reminder of what my relationship with the kids and families at Eugene Pediatrics is all about.
The Declaration of Geneva
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 honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
My colleagues will be my sisters and my 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 honor.
It was such an honor to watch the next generation of physicians recite these words. I wish them success in their careers and that they may truly come to understand what a privilege it is to serve people in such a special and meaningful way.