The New Year is a good time to think about goals, hopes and aspirations for the coming year. In that spirit, I wanted to share with you a tradition The University of Minnesota Medical School has begun. Each year the incoming medical school class creates their own class oath.  Upon graduation and as a part of their ‘White Coat’ ceremony, they update and recite that oath.

Below you will see this year’s graduating class oath. I invite you to read it and simply pay attention. What do you notice? What strikes you? How is it different from something your medical class might have created? Reading it do you feel hope, cynicism or something else?

“With gratitude for the privilege of becoming a physician, I pledge this oath to myself, my patients, my colleagues, and my community:

  • I pledge to care for my patients with all that I have to offer, knowing that when I take care of myself, I have the most to give. I will use my knowledge and compassion to empower patients to be champions of their health and well-being. I will care for patients with cultural competency and respect. Recognizing the power and responsibility of being a physician, I will meet vulnerability with humility. I pledge to see the person behind the disease. 
  • I pledge to exemplify the integrity and the virtues that sustain the practice of medicine. I aspire to excellence while being mindful of my limitations and open to the voices of others. I will nourish my practice with a commitment to lifelong learning. I pledge to honor the passions and obligations that define me as a person, both in medicine and life.
  • I pledge to learn diligently from my patients, colleagues, and communities, to advance the art and science of healing. I will strive for excellence through innovation in evidence-based medicine, respecting its utility and acknowledging its limitations. I pledge to bridge scientific advancement and social equity. I will challenge the barriers that keep my patients from care, and I will raise my voice to call out injustice and celebrate progress.

With this oath, I pledge to honor the traditions of those who came before me, and the hopes of those I serve. May I long experience joy in the healing of those who seek my help.”