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The Ever-Changing Oaths of Doctors

Is There Such a Thing As a Doctors Oath?

Thousands of medical students swear a doctors oath each year. They recite modern versions of the Hippocratic Oath, which keep original values in place and address advances in medicine and societal changes.

These modern oaths often include tenets such as preserving patient privacy, advocating interprofessional teamwork, and striving to erase unconscious biases. They also may foreswear euthanasia and abortion or commit to never revealing secrets about patients.

The Hippocratic Oath

Many of the pledges in the Hippocratic Oath still hold relevance in today’s world, despite 2,500 years of advancement in medicine and technology. However, not all medical schools use the same version of the Oath.

Many modern oaths, including the Declaration of Geneva adopted by the World Medical Association in 1948 and periodically updated, build upon Hippocrates’ principles and include promises not to commit medical fraud, not to withhold treatment from patients, and not to disclose confidential information.

The oath also includes a promise to promote health knowledge by sharing medical information with colleagues and students. This is a key point that has come under challenge in recent years as medical education has shifted from being a solo endeavor to a team-based, collaborative practice. It’s important for all healthcare providers, regardless of discipline, to share and be transparent about their expertise. This is one of the foundations of modern medicine. It is the best way to ensure patient safety and prevent errors.


Many doctors today take the Hippocratic Oath upon graduating from medical school. This is a ritual that dates back almost 2000 years and is often accompanied by an elaborate ceremony. The oath embodies principles such as beneficence, gratitude, confidentiality and humility.

It is important to note that the first principle of the oath, “primum non nocere,” does not actually appear in the original Hippocratic Oath. This phrase was added in a few centuries later, most likely during the translation of the Oath into Roman Latin by Cato and others in the first century B.C.

The oath also contains some seemingly strange rules for physicians, such as demanding free tuition for students and urging them to never use a knife or cut their patients. The oath also mentions Apollo and other Greek gods. Bioethicist Steven Miles suggests that these names were used to remind physicians of the high standards of medicine and the need to remember their own mortality.


Since the time of Hippocrates, the world has experienced huge scientific and social changes that have placed new demands on physicians. These demands include malpractice issues, government regulation, third-payer healthcare systems, and advances in technology and pharmaceutical companies that allow doctors to treat more patients than ever before. These changes have made some people feel that the Hippocratic Oath is irrelevant.

Many modern doctors have come to believe that the oath’s content no longer addresses their ethical concerns, such as abortion and physician-assisted suicide. They also complain that the oath does not help resolve some of the more pressing medical issues today, such as the growing demand for patient privacy and the need to treat patients with lethal new diseases like AIDS or Ebola.

Regardless of their beliefs, many medical students continue to take some form of the Hippocratic Oath or similar pledges. The debate over the significance of such an oath or pledge will probably continue as long as there are different cultures and views on the value of human life.


Despite the fact that 98% of American medical students swear some form of oath upon entering or graduating from school, most oaths do not have much in common. A survey of 105 different oaths found that no single element appeared in all oaths.

The oaths that do exist today usually start with a reference to patients as primary objects of care. In addition to putting the patient first, modern oaths often include pledges to respect the autonomy and dignity of all patients. Psychiatrists, for example, are required to inform authorities of any suspected cases of child abuse. Failure to do so could result in a fine or imprisonment.

The Hippocratic Oath prohibits abortion and euthanasia, but it does not address many modern issues such as vegetative states or the right to die with dignity. Furthermore, the original oath calls for free tuition for medical students, but that is an impossibility in this day and age when healthcare is largely public funded.

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The Salary and Benefits of Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders Salary

Doctors without borders, or MSF, is a humanitarian organization famous for its dangerous missions around the world. Many medical professionals sacrifice their salaries to work for the organization, which offers stipends and full insurance coverage for field assignments.

Before you can join the team, you must complete a training course. This process can take several months.


Physicians with Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, are known for their steadfast dedication to providing medical care in war zones and disaster areas. While they do not earn the salaries of their peers in private practice, MSF pays physicians for their work and provides benefits such as round-trip airfare to their place of employment, a monthly per diem allowance paid in local currency while in the field, and basic personal items like toiletries.

MSF is an international charity that raises about 89 percent of its funding from general public donations. MSF packages reflect the humanitarian spirit of its workers and recognize that medical professionals volunteer their time and expertise to support global health programs. They include an initial indemnity of approximately 1,100-1,300 EURO gross credited to the worker’s bank account each month and are recalculated after 12 months of service. In addition, MSF covers all expenses related to their mission. These include round trip economy air travel, accommodation in the country of assignment and a monthly stipend allowance to cover daily living expenses.

Nurses & Midwives

Nurses and midwives with experience working in resource-limited settings are needed by international volunteer organizations such as Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). These medical relief groups work with doctors to provide direct assistance to people in countries where health or sanitation systems have collapsed. They are often responding to armed conflict, natural disasters, disease epidemics or malnutrition crises.

MSF workers say they are motivated by a deep sense of empathy and a strong belief in the worth of every human life. They often accept risks and challenges that would not be attractive to many others. They may spend years away from their families and friends in the name of helping those in need.

MSF pays its medical staff modest stipends, provides full insurance coverage and covers travel expenses, vaccinations and other work-related costs. It also offers a variety of career development opportunities. It has protocols, guidelines and references that are regularly updated for each project it supports.


Physicians working with MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres) earn a salary that reflects the humanitarian spirit of volunteerism rather than market value. They also receive comprehensive medical and travel insurance, a stipend for expenses, and regular raises as they gain experience.

Nurses and midwives play an important role in the work of MSF, particularly when dealing with war-ravaged areas or disease epidemics. They are often asked to take part in a variety of healthcare initiatives such as organizing a vaccination program, triaging an influx of displaced people, or running a feeding center.

If you are looking for a way to experience medical volunteering, but do not meet the MSF requirements, there are reputable alternatives that offer shorter programs and do not have strict age or health restrictions. IVHQ, for example, offers a range of impactful medical and healthcare volunteer programs in various countries around the world. IVHQ has a longstanding relationship with local partners to provide volunteers with an authentic and safe experience abroad.


Doctors without Borders is an international humanitarian medical organization that provides independent medical humanitarian aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, disasters, malnutrition, and exclusion from healthcare. They do not discriminate on the basis of political or religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, or social class.

Medical professionals who work for MSF have a deep commitment to helping others and are willing to put themselves in difficult and dangerous situations. In addition to modest stipends, MSF pays for travel arrangements, living expenses, and insurance coverage.

MSF is a great place to work for if you have the dedication, selflessness, and flexibility needed to take on an overseas assignment. It’s also a great place to get experience in the medical field before applying for a job in the private sector or for a residency.

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