The Orientation and The Oath

Tomorrow afternoon, I will swear the Hippocratic Oath.  As much as I love working with words and feeling their myriad textures and colors within my mind, I find it difficult to explain exactly how I feel when I think of this moment.  There is a grave beauty about this oath, this promise to my future patients.

Some words from the modern version of this oath resonate with the lessons and reflections I gathered today, this second day of my Transition to Medical School.

“I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”

As part of this morning’s orientation activities, I attended a talk on the use of technology in medicine, and we discussed how patients need to know that their provider is listening to them.  While test results and other information in the electronic medical record are essential to patient care, it is possible to become too caught up with the “iPatient,” and I must not neglect the human connection that defines medicine.

Like an abstract painting, medicine is where lives collide and individual threads of humanity are woven together.  It is where a thousand dreams and hopes and passions flow together, where reality intersects infinity.  It is where hearts touch and hands embrace to celebrate, commiserate, comfort.  That is why I chose this path in the first place.

“I will not be ashamed to say ‘I know not,’ nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.”

Earlier today, we broke into small groups with our Educators 4 CARE mentors.  This is something that I have been looking forward to for a while, and I am excited about the longitudinal relationships I will form within my E4C group.  CARE stands for Compassion, Advocacy, Responsibility and Empathy, and the E4C mentors model these characteristics and help cultivate them in their students throughout the course of medical school.

I am fortunate to have Dr. Peter Pompei as my E4C mentor and several great classmates as my E4C family.  As each E4C group is represented by a tree, I am now officially a member of the pear tree, our group’s emblem.


Although it may still be hard, I will no longer be ashamed to say “I know not” because it is no longer about me and how comfortable I feel.  As was emphasized throughout today’s orientation talks, things are starting to shift.  Things are different now.

I am now a medical student.

And tomorrow I will take the oath.

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