The year 2020 began with unique challenges from a global pandemic and wide-spread economic strain. Our healthcare workforce has responded magnificently well despite these trials. Now, part-way through the year, we also face the opportunity of responding to, and learning from, events framed by ongoing social inequities in the United States of America.
In addition to the recent civil unrest emanating from the tragic death of George Floyd, we must better comprehend and address the statistic that African Americans, who constitute 13 percent of our population, have suffered more than half of COVID-19 cases and nearly 60 percent of its deaths nationwide; and Latinos, who constitute 18 percent of the population, account for nearly 30 percent of new COVID-19 cases.
Clearly, we require deeper levels of appreciation and subsequent action before we can truly understand all of the social determinants for health care in America.
As physicians, we are bound by a timeless oath emanating from the 5th century BCE – the Hippocratic Oath* – to serve the health and well-being of all patients; and to maintain the utmost respect for human life. Further, we pledge to not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between our duty and our patients. This oath embraces and strengthens our sacred profession, and physician leaders must strive to continually emulate all of its facets.
And while the American Association for Physician Leadership is proud of its constellation of efforts with diversity and inclusion in recent years, as physician leaders we must still do more in this regard for our world. Physician leadership increasingly drives improvements in healthcare, uniquely enhanced by the caring and compassion at the core of our profession. Our profession acknowledges and embraces diversity, inclusion, and justice for all human beings; and has done so through the ages.
AAPL remains committed to helping our global society and our AAPL constituency with the collective effort of continually advancing equality and justice for all human beings. We shall continue AAPL’s commitment to honor this effort as our society draws further lessons from these events of 2020.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King – Alabama 1963
The Physician’s Pledge*
AS A MEMBER OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION:
I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to dedicate my life to the service of humanity;
THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;
I WILL RESPECT the autonomy and dignity of my patient;
I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;
I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
I WILL PRACTISE my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice;
I WILL FOSTER the honour and noble traditions of the medical profession;
I WILL GIVE to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due;
I WILL SHARE my medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of healthcare;
I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard;
I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely, and upon my honour.
*Updated modification to the Hippocratic Oath; endorsed by the World Medical Association in 2017.
Peter B. Angood, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, MCCM, FAAPL(Hon)
President & Chief Executive Officer
Executive Committee, AAPL Board of Directors