The Use and Relevance of the Hippocratic Oath in 2015-a Survey of US Medical Schools

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Anesthesiology; School of Medicine

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Document Type



Anesthesia and Analgesia | Anesthesiology | Bioethics and Medical Ethics | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Medical Education


INTRODUCTION: We determined the extent and context in which the Hippocratic or other oaths are administered at accredited medical schools in the United States.

METHODS: An online survey was used to gather data about oath ceremonies at every allopathic medical school in the US.

RESULTS: Sixty-seven of 141 contacted medical schools (48%) had medical students recite an oath. Fifty-nine (88% of responding institutions) had students swear an oath more than once during medical training and 30 (45%) used more than one oath. Responses show that 29 (43%) schools used the classic Hippocratic Oath or a modified version of it, 29 (43%) used oaths authored by students and/or faculty, and 28 (42%) used some other oath. All reporting institutions (67, 100%) incorporated an oath into a White Coat Ceremony (62, 92%), a ceremonial event where medical students are given short white coats to be worn during clinical rotations, or Commencement (62, 93%).

DISCUSSION: Oaths play a significant role in medical school ceremonies with an unknown impact on shaping the medical ethics of student physicians. Although sections of the Hippocratic Oath may seem outdated, its principles remain vastly applicable to the ethical practice of modern medicine. On the contrary, we argue that many features of the oath are more applicable than ever before to the modern clinician. We believe that the Hippocratic Oath ought to remain a vital part of today's medical education and clinical practice.

DOI of Published Version



J Anesth Hist. 2018 Apr;4(2):139-146. doi: 10.1016/j.janh.2017.09.005. Epub 2017 Oct 5. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of anesthesia history

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Link to Article in PubMed

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