While there is currently no legal obligation for medical students to swear an oath upon graduating, 98% of American medical graduates swear some form of oath, while only 50% of British do. In France, new medical graduates have to sign the Hippocratic oath. It is compulsory. In my younger years, after presenting a thesis at the University of Bordeaux, I had to sign the Hippocratic oath in order to obtain the title of M.D.
In the first paragraph, we read: “I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.” I am and I will always be grateful to my teachers and colleagues who have generously shared their information, wisdom, know-how with good ethics and enthusiasm for our profession.
I have been lucky enough to always practice in an academic environment and be surrounded by other professors, students and specialty residents. For the last 10 years, I have worked with several medical schools that trust me to teach their students during a one-month of shadowing in my private practice. It consists of a one-on-one elective rotation in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility offered to fourth year medical students.
Our field has tremendously progressed in the last 40 years. I like to remind the students how we reached our present level of technology. I always emphasize the fact that we all learn from the same textbooks but that the difference will come from the application of common sense and good bedside manners. We need to take time to listen to the patients, and show respect and honesty in our assessments.
It is a privilege for me to share my experience case by case, in the office, on the ward and in the operating room. They are generally very inquisitive and I encourage them to ask questions. It is comforting to read in their eyes and mind enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Each student is asked to voluntarily write an essay on a specific topic and I must say that most of them do excellent work, proof of a proper past education.
I try to learn from my students as much as I can. They certainly have taught me a lot, especially about electronic and modern gadgets. We must always remember that these young men and women make a tremendous sacrifice of 4 years. They have to study very hard in order to pass their board, knowing that the higher their grade, the better their chance to be accepted in the residency program of their choice. Schooling is not cheap and most of them have to face the potential reimbursement of a $200,000 to $300,000 loan after graduation.
Finally, I like to remind them that we must pay attention to the cost of medicine and the fact that, in our specialty, most patients have to make a significant monetary sacrifice to achieve their goal. The “IVF Low Cost program” introduced by the Servy Institute of Reproductive Endocrinology (S.I.R.E) is a good example of an effort in the right direction.