Intended for healthcare professionals

Student News


BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 01 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:0712430

United States

Geneva Conventions not known

Medical students in the United States know little about military medical ethics, and many students are unaware of doctors' ethical duties under the Geneva Conventions, a survey of 1700 students has found. Ninety four per cent said that they had received less than one hour of instruction in military medical ethics during medical school, and 34% of students did not know that the Geneva Conventions require doctors to “treat the sickest first, regardless of nationality.”

About 70% of US military doctors are recruited from civilian medical schools in exchange for scholarships, and congressional legislation also allows the military to call up civilian doctors in case of a wartime shortage.

US Army doctor treating trauma petient in Iraq

“If we were to get drafted we could become military physicians in two or three weeks, so we thought maybe we ought to see if [students] know anything about military ethics in general,” said the head researcher, J Wesley Boyd, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (


Militants criticise doctors' strike

The …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription