What Is The Hippocratic Oath and Where Did It Come From?

Having a moral compass in life and career is always a good idea. When it comes to children and parenting, we have built in morals in most cases. When it comes to professional careers, it is something that sometimes gets missed. The hippocratic oath is the oath that people in the medical field take that states they will do the best they can for their patients. The hippocratic oath says that they will never use their knowledge for harm, and that they will always help someone in need of that care. (A loose translation)

A very long time ago in the days before Christ, a Greek doctor and teacher named Hippocrates came up with these vows. Teaching and working on the island of Cos, he was one of the first early doctors to consider natural causes as the impetus behind why we get sick. In his time, he was probably made fun of because physicians up to that point had always thought that sickness was supernatural in nature. This led to any number of wild attempts at cures, and reckless, though well intentioned medical treatment. Hippocrates was the beginning of modern medicine to many, and was one of the first doctors to begin looking at traditional medicine as a cure. He is now considered the father of medicine.

In those days, doctors felt that disease was often the result of curses, and supernatural problems of that sort. Hippocrates recognized that diseases were often curable, and he studied them at length. Hippocrates felt that disease could be cured and treated. This led to the advent of the basics of modern medicine. The hippocratic oath stemmed from this honorable and humble beginning to health care.

Over the years, the hippocratic oath was handed down, and another prominent physician cemented those oaths. Galen, who practiced for many famous Roman Emperors, also believed in this oath. He considered Hippocrates to be the ultimate doctor, and built upon his principles and medical theories. His own works were considered the major medical texts of the next several centuries. Galen perpetuated the hippocratic oath and it stuck for all time as a symbol of ethics in medicine.

Today the hippocratic oath is largely symbolic in nature. It is often spoken after graduation or before someone goes into practice. The oath is taken quite seriously by some medical communities and is a requirement to join practice for many. For example, all medical personnel in the Armed Services of the United States must take the hippocratic oath.

Because the hippocratic oath is written originally in ancient text, it is often translated a bit differently by different people. The key here is that the oath states that you will use your knowledge for the health of all, and that you will not use the knowledge for bad. Also, it states that you should never ignore someone in need of care that you can provide. Ironically, because of the lack of medical insurance and the massive needs of society, many doctors break this oath on a regular basis. Many people are turned away every day that are in need of medicine they can not afford, or treatment that is not considered an emergency.


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