Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Ethics Man

Is being a doctor “just a job”?

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 14 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5257
  1. Daniel Sokol, medical ethicist and barrister
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London
  1. daniel.sokol{at}

Oaths and declarations signify a deeper vocation

Over at the blog site of the Journal of Medical Ethics Iain Brassington, senior lecturer in bioethics and medical law at the University of Manchester, has launched an acerbic critique of the Declaration of Geneva, the modern day Hippocratic oath whose latest revision was adopted by the World Medical Association on 14 October 2017.1

Brassington methodically dissects the declaration. I focus here on one aspect of his analysis. The declaration states, “I will foster the honour and noble traditions of the medical profession.” This clause existed in near identical form in the original 1948 version of the Geneva declaration. Brassington comments dismissively: “Huh? It’s just a job, mate. Get over it.”

Is being a doctor just a job? Is that clause “phenomenally …

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