Culture

The Corner

Young Doctors Rejecting Hippocratic Oath

Well this is certainly alarming. According to a Medscape poll, younger doctors are turning their backs on the Hippocratic Oath. 

According to the poll, to which readers began responding November 22, of those under age 34, 39% said it was very meaningful, compared with 70% of those 65 and older.

Conversely, of those in the under-34 group (which had 267 respondents), 18% said it was not at all meaningful vs 10% of those in the oldest age group (836 respondents).

Younger doctors need not concern themselves unduly. As I noted here at NRO several years ago, medical schools offer mere pabulum oaths today instead of pledges steeped in the rigorous proscriptions contained in the original version.

Besides, today’s medical students are often taught utilitarian values more than the principles of the oath that prevent doctors from crossing essential boundaries into life-taking actions.

But here’s the thing: The oath is for the protection of patients, not the self-regard of doctors. 

Here’s a poll I would like to see. How many patients want their doctors to take the Hippocratic Oath?

I will bet that the percentage supporting the Hippocratic Oath would be far higher than its current supporters among young physicians. 

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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