Wayfaring MD

I am a family medicine resident who likes to highlight the hilarious in medicine as I write about patients, medical school, residency, medical missions, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

HIPAA is for reals, folks. All of my "patient stories" have been changed to protect patient privacy. I will change any or all identifiers, including age, location, race/ethnicity, sex, medical history, and quotes. Also, I am an anonymous internet person. Why should you trust an anonymous internet person to give you medical advice? Don't ask me, ask your doctor!
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Asker yl8 Asks:
You recited the Hippocratic Oath, correct? Was it meaningful to you?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Umm, I think I did. I know I recited something, but whether it was the original HO or a modified modern one, I can’t remember. Clearly it must not have meant much to me if I can’t remember.

Here’s the thing. Most people recite some form of oath of ethics when they start medical school, but very few of them remember it and many of them don’t actually adhere to it. It’s gotten to be that reciting the Hippocratic Oath is just a tradition that people do to make them feel more doctorly. Personally I agree with its tenets (respect your teachers, prescribe drugs/diets that are beneficial only, no abortion, no euthanasia, no having sex with patients, keep patient info private), but how many doctors in this country can say the same? Yet most of us have recited the oath.

We all learn medical ethics in medical school and throughout our careers, and I think that plus my personal beliefs and standards have left me with a much more concrete and meaningful set of standards than the oath ever could have. Most of these standards were already ingrained in me before I started medical school, so taking an oath to affirm those beliefs was not a big thing for me.

Here’s a link to the original Hippocratic Oath so you can read for yourselves what it says.


Interestingly enough, the HO does not say “First, do no harm.” Lots of people attribute that saying to the oath, and though it does say not to cause harm, it doesn’t put it in those words. 

  1. mindful-magick said: Isn’t it really just one of those formalities, that people eye roll and glaze over? Like it’s lost it’s ‘power’.
  2. thenotquitedoctor said: I think many schools now do a modified oath from the Geneva convention
  3. cranquis said: Wow, this was a surprising answer — but well stated, and I agree with your take on it.
  4. wayfaringmd posted this