Students vow to serve patients with respect, humility and compassion

Second-Year Oath ceremony affirms the human qualities of practicing medicine

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

March 07, 2013

Members of the School of Medicine’s Class of 2015 vowed to serve patients with respect, humility and compassion at the Second-Year Oath Ceremony held Wednesday, March 6, at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. The ceremony is the formal and ceremonial way that medical students in their second year affirm that medicine is a humanistic, ethical and moral undertaking as well as a biological science. As usual, the evening ended with members of the class reciting an oath they wrote themselves.

The Second-Year Oath of the Class of 2015

May I serve my patients, their loved ones and our community with respect, humility and compassion.

May the care I provide be a source of comfort and strength.

May I acknowledge patients as individuals, and remain mindful of their autonomy, dignity and unique histories.

May I continue to seek knowledge with an open mind, and draw upon the wisdom of my colleagues.

May I lead when called upon, acknowledging the gravity of my decisions.

May I recognize when I need help, and have the courage to ask for it.

May I appreciate those who have afforded me the privilege to pursue a career in medicine.

I endeavor to fulfill this oath with integrity, finding joy and fulfillment in my practice and my life.

“Beginnings are important, and tonight is a beginning,” said guest speaker John Zawacki, MD, professor of medicine, a gastroenterologist has practiced and taught at UMMS for the past 38 years. “This night gives you an opportunity to set a goal as to the type of physician you want to become.”

Dr. Zawacki advised students to respect, care, listen, inform and accompany their patients—his five principles for remaining a compassionate care giver. “If you live [the principles], you will be extraordinary. Because, guess what, extraordinary things will happen to you,” he said.

Echoing the same theme, Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medicine, executive deputy chancellor, provost, dean of the School of Medicine and professor of pediatrics, recounted an experience as a fourth-year medical student in New Orleans, when he treated a patient with a new, scary disease called AIDS. Because AIDS at that time was always fatal and most often afflicted “homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs and Haitians,” as Dr. Flotte was taught, health care professionals were fearful of the disease, an often showed that fear by dehumanizing the victim.

“Our oath as professional is an ambitious one—to put aside all of our own biases and emotions, including this strongest emotion of fear, when we serve our patients and their families. We will not be perfect in doing so, but we must all continue to try,” said Dr. Flotte.

Outstanding Educator Awards were presented to Susan B. Gagliardi, PhD, professor of cell & developmental biology and neurology; Vijay Vanguri, MD, assistant professor of pathology; Mark Dershwitz, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; Mai-Lan A. Rogoff, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics; Anne M. Gilroy, MA, associate professor of surgery and cell & developmental biology; David M. Clive, MD, professor of medicine; and Krista S. Johansen, MD, assistant professor of cell & developmental biology.