Doctors Don’t Need a New Hippocratic Oath
The Hippocratic Oath is at the heart of health care. New physicians have always repeated its promise to “do no harm.” Yet radical activism is leading to efforts to “update” the oath – and ultimately undermine it.
Look no further than Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. At the start of the most recent school year, 140 incoming medical students donned their doctor’s coats and made a solemn pledge. Yet unlike every class that came before, these medical students wrote their own version of the Hippocratic Oath.
Instead of promising to “do no harm,” these future doctors vowed to “disrupt… injustices.” They also said: “I acknowledge the past and present failures of medicine to abide by its obligation to do no harm and affirm the need to address systemic issues.” This language reflects medical education’s embrace of Critical Race Theory, which holds that doctors should give preferential treatment to patients based on skin color, while deprioritizing care for others.
Such discrimination is the way to do harm – the opposite of a doctor’s oath.
The damage will constantly be reinforced as these students progress through Columbia, which has committed to making Critical Race Theory a foundational part of its curriculum. Yet the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t need to be updated, and its core promise to “do no harm” should never be discarded. Just the opposite: Future and current physicians should be looking for new to fulfill that promise and improve patients’ lives.
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