Is it time to end taking oaths?
Andrew Moscrop argues that medical students should be aware of ethics rather than swearing oaths
Swearing is cool right now. Medical oaths and declarations, signed or sworn at graduations and other ceremonial occasions, have never been more popular than the present.1 The number of medical schools at which oath taking forms part of the graduation event has increased greatly in the past half century. Most students in the United Kingdom now make some sort of oath or affirmation before starting their first jobs as doctors. At the same time, much effort is going into reassessing and revising medical oaths.
The British Medical Association recently redrafted the Hippocratic oath and any discussion of the oath in the medical press invariably brings demands for its definitive rewriting.2 3 The dean of a new medical school at Norwich has already decided that when the first students graduate in 2007, they will affirm the declaration of Geneva. Meanwhile, students of Imperial College, London, formulated their own “declaration of a