The cruel irony of the Hippocratic Oath

In a few weeks, new medical school graduates will take their turns saying the words of the Hippocratic Oath.

In theory: This is a noble tradition where they promise to fulfill their duties as wonderful physicians: Autonomous, wise, humble, prevention-focused, and active members of their communities.

In reality: The health care system in which they’re entering makes it next to impossible to keep any of these commitments. It is a cruel irony to have medical students pledge their commitment to preventive care as they enter a world dominated by tertiary medicine.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to change the Hippocratic Oath. And I don’t want medical students to stop saying it.

I want to reclaim these words by overhauling health care so that it encourages physicians to keep their promises.

Jamie Katuna is a medical student.  She can be reached on Facebook.

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