Contemporary Medical Students’ Perceptions of the Hippocratic Oath

Fritz Baumgartner, Gabriel Flores
  • The Linacre Quarterly, February 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0024363918756389

Hippocratic Oath

What is it about?

Medical Students' Perceptions of the Hippocratic Oath, vis a vis original vs. modified versions of the Hippocratic Oath. Relationship of the Hippocratic Oath in the Nuremberg Trials is discussed.

Why is it important?

The Hippocratic Oath has been preeminent as a moral compass to direct the behavior of physicians, and prominently figured, for example, in the Nuremberg Trials. How do contemporary medical students consider the Hippocratic Oath? Do they prefer the original Hippocratic Oath or a modified version? How do students feel about the original oath's proscriptions against abortion and physician assisted suicide? Considering the current debate about health care workers who use conscientious objection to abstain from delivering care they consider unethical, the answers to these questions are important. Conscientious objector physicians who followed their Hippocratic Oath and refused to perform abortions and assisted suicide were praised at the Nuremberg trials which, in fact, categorized such activities as "crimes against humanity."


Fritz Baumgartner (Author)

The research is timely in that we are at a crossroads in Western Medicine regarding the value of human life. The specter of a utilitarian vision of the value of human life is directly and explicitly addressed in the Hippocratic Oath, particularly in the attitudes physicians should have regarding abortion and euthanasia.

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