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I promise to teach. A Teaching Oath: A Commitment to Medical Students' Learning and Development. Cottrell S et al. Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2012; 24(2):165-167.


Reviewed by Virginia Randall

What is the focus of this paper?
The authors - from West Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma - have articulate a "Teaching Oath" to assist in reminding the medical community that teaching is an essential part of our profession.

What is the "Teaching Oath?"
The Oath was developed for public affirmation at academic ceremonies and is to be said by those who teach medical students (residents, faculty, nurses, allied health personnel, etc.). Excerpts include: "Educating students is my solemn responsibility", "I am entrusted to strike a passion for learning", "I will communicate high expectations to my students", and "May my commitment to excellence in teaching and learning grant me a place among the medical educators recognized as respected mentors and professionals."

What are the implications of using this Oath?
This Oath affirms the role of physicians and other faculty as "professional educators" in medical education and brings teaching to the fore in academic culture. The authors state their expectation: "Acknowledging a promise to uphold the highest standards of teaching will help clarify expectations and energize educators to fulfill the promise of a dynamic learning environment."

Editor's note: It would be interesting to see if attitudes or behaviors change as a result of this initiative. The authors clearly believe the Oath has the power to alter both but this should be studied before such claims are made.

On at totally different note, I was fortunate to work with Dr. H. Dele Davies during my residency at the University of Calgary. (He is now Chair of Pediatrics at Michigan State University and Secretary-Treasurer to AMPDC.) He wrote a Medi-Desiderata (which I have framed in my office alongside the Hippocratic Oath). Like the Teaching Oath described, Davies' Medi-Desiderata has the potential to inspire, empower, and transform individuals. Wrote Davies (in a tribute to Max Ehrmann) "Go faithfully amid the diseased and disturbed and remember what serenity there may be in health …. Neither be too cynical about medicine; for in the face of all criticisms and disenchantment, its role is as solid as the age old rocks …. Be buoyant. Strive for felicity." (SLB)

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