A Hippocratic oath for scientists

At the First Annual Lab Coat Ceremony for Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. students at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, at which I delivered the Keynote Address, the students and their mentors were asked to recite oaths pledging their dedication to the field. Such oaths have been called ‘Hippocratic oaths for Scientists’, similar to the Hippocratic oath taken by medical professionals at the onset of their training.

I strongly endorse the idea of having a Lab Coat Ceremony for Ph.D. students (the one at Icahn School of Medicine was the first in New York). While similar oaths for scientists have been previously proposed, I reproduce those from the Mt. Sinai event below to help guide other programs in developing their own ceremonies.

Ph.D. Pledge

I willingly pledge to uphold the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, scholarship and honor.

I will conduct my research and professional endeavors with honesty and objectivity.

I will apply the highest standards of rigor and respect for the generation and application of knowledge, and fully acknowledge the contributions of others.

I will not allow financial gain or ambition to cloud my judgment or decision-making nor cause harm to society or subjects of research.

I will embark on the furthering of knowledge through respectful interaction and collaboration with my colleagues and community, without prejudice or exclusion.

I will be a role model, and use my skills to inspire, mentor and empower future generations, instilling in them the highest principles of ethical behavior.

As witnessed by all present today, and in the tradition of graduates before me, i do affirm to uphold these guiding principles.

As teachers and mentors for our students, we pledge to maintain the highest professional standards in all of our interactions with students, patients, colleagues, and staff.

Faculty Pledge

We pledge our utmost effort to ensure that all components of the educational program for students will be of the highest quality.

We will respect all students as individuals, without regard to gender, race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation; we will not tolerate anyone who manifests disrespect or who expresses biased attitudes towards any student. We will not tolerate any abuse or exploitation of students.

In an effort to nurture personal development, we pledge that students will have adequate time for reflection as well as personal and family obligations.

In nurturing both the intellectual and professional development of our students, we will celebrate achievement of academic excellence and demonstration of the highest virtues of our profession.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Steve Hawkins 16 October 2018, 11:38 pm

    Very good list!

    I wonder what scientists could ‘swear’ on?
    Periodic Table? Tree of Life?

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