The Oath of Hippocrates with Two Modern Adaptations
Sometimes Used in Nursing Schools
The practice of "swearing in" a member of a guild or profession is very old and is still continued as a tradition in some professional schools. The general trend of opinion today is against the requirement of any such pledge or oath. The examples quoted below are given for their historic interest.
The Hippocratic oath Was framed by Hippocrates, the Greek "Father of Medicine," in the fifth century before Christ. There are several forms of the oath. The following translation is taken from a copy published by the Journal of the American Medical Association:
"I swear by Apollo, the physician, and Æsculapius and Health,1 and All-heal,2 and all the gods and goddesses, that according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and stipulation: to reckon him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance faith him and relieve his necessities if required; to regard his offspring as on the same footing with my own brothers, and to teach-them this art if they should wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation, and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons and to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath, according to the law of medicine, but to none others.
"I will follow that method of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious. and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked nor suggest any such counsel ; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.
"With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut a person who: is suffering with a stone, but will leave this to be done by practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter I will go into them for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and further from the seduction of females or males, bond or free.
"Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, 1 may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
"While I continue to keep this oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men at all times, but should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot."
The modified Hippocratic oath arranged by Mrs. Lystra Gretter for the nurses of the Farrand Training School, Detroit, was called the Florence Nightingale Pledge as a token of esteem for Miss Nightingale. It is sometimes ascribed wrongly to Miss Nightingale's authorship. Its relationship to the old oath of medicine is quite plain.
"I solemnly pledge myself before God, and in the presence of this assembly) to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all' in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of. my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care."
Mrs. Cadwalader Jones, a member of the Board of Managers of the City Hospital, New York, is the author of another version of the Hippocratic oath. It runs as follows:
"You do solemnly swear, each by whatever she holds most sacred :
"That you will be loyal to the physicians under whom you serve, as a good soldier is loyal to his officers.
"That you will be just and generous to all worthy members of your profession, aiding them when it will be in your power to do so.
"That you will live your lives and lead your profession in uprightness and honor.
"That into whatsoever house you shall enter, it shall be for the good of the sick to the utmost of your power, and that you will hold yourselves aloof from all temptation.
"That whatsoever you shall see or hear of the lives of men and women, whether they be your patients or members of their households, you will keep inviolably secret, whether you are in other households, or among your own friends."
1. Hygeia 2. Panacea