The Hippocratic Oath: Even people with very little medical knowledge or training has probably heard of this pledge that has been taken by medical students for centuries as they prepare to provide care for patients. It is believed that Hippocrates, often referred to as the Father of Medicine in Western culture, or one of his protégées wrote the oath around the 5th century B.C. Although the specific wording of this oath has been updated over the years, it primary message remains the same: "First do no harm."
I have long wondered why it is that there isn't a similar oath that directs and a ritual that symbolizes the commitment of students in other health care professions. In occupational therapy, we are guided by the AOTA Code of Ethics, which serves us well, but I still think there could be great value to more closely emulating the tradition of the Hippocratic Oath. Why not an OT Oath?
After many years as an OT practicing in the field, I know how easy it is to fall into a routine with the daily grind of one's job. Sometimes we get bogged down by the details, the to-do lists, and the minutia of it all that we forget - or at least we forget to be mindful of - what drew us to the field of OT in the first place, why it is that we do what we do, and how fortunate we are to be part of such an exceptional profession. Maybe looking back at the pledge that we took as fledgling OT students would bring that back into focus.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever, chart, or cancerous growth , but a sick human being."
I will gladly share knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow."
I will not be ashamed to say 'I know not' nor will I fail to call on my colleagues when the skill of another is needed."
I wish I had written an OT Oath for myself as an OT student. I would love to read now what I had pledged back then.
Stephanie Lancaster, MS, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS is an occupational therapist with 28+ years of clinical experience. As an assistant professor, Stephanie trumpets the value of teaching and practicing in the field of OT in an "out loud" manner.
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