Updated Hippocratic Oath at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine may raise compulsive speech concerns

University of Minnesota medical students read the updated Hippocratic Oath, penned by a small group of their classmates, that seems to commit the entire class to a variety of contested political viewpoints. (Ken Walter / Shutterstock.com)

A video of a dean leading incoming medical students pledging to “respect indigenous healing methods,” a commitment to combating racism, and more, suggests the oath may be mandatory.

by Alex Morey

October 13, 2022

  • Medical schools nationwide adopt an oath written by students in white coat ceremonies.
  • Many of them contain highly politicized statements that not all students will agree with.
  • Are you a medical student forced to read one of these pledges? We want to hear from you.

Each year, incoming students at many medical schools across the country earn their white coats and pledge to “First, do no harm,“In what’s known as a ‘white coat ceremony’. But this year, the University of Minnesota School of Medicine It seems To ask the next class to pledge allegiance to a controversial set of ideologies formulated by a small subset of students – ideas with which other students may disagree. If it is mandatory, this practice would violate the First Amendment rights of dissenting students.

Public universities such as UMMS are constitutionally obligated to protect expressive rights. At the same time, they can strive to better serve students from historically marginalized groups. Universities can also encourage students to adopt practices that advance these goals. But they cannot force students to testify to personal beliefs they may not hold.

This is what may happen in UMMS, where the officials He said A handful of hundreds of international students have prepared this year’s update Hippocratic oath For the entire chapter to read. The updated Department of Ethics is trending by students in medical schools nationwide; They go beyond traditional promises like “do no harm.” A similar section written by students has been adopted in recent years in medical schools such as HarvardAnd the ColombiaAnd the what’s upAnd the Pet Medand the Icahn School of Medicine.

Fire Wrote Today to UMMS for a clarification on what appears to have happened at the recent White Coats party.

Medical students would probably be forced to read ideological undertakings literally if they wished to become doctors would be a new low.

The video shows students led by a dean directing them to stand and recite each word in unison – suggesting that the recitation of the oath may indeed be mandatory. The students acknowledge that they are on Aboriginal lands, pledge to fight “white supremacy” and promote “anti-racism” culture, and promise to “respect all indigenous healing methods that have historically been marginalized by Western medicine.”

FIRE respects the rights of students to express their opinions. But since only a small committee of all the new students drafted the statement, some of the other students numbering several hundred might have had to express their fellow classmates’ few opinions as their own. (It is unclear if any of the students opposed, and if so, whether they could opt out.)

We are also concerned that these self-squishy obligations could become de facto professional requirements, and students could be penalized for failing to adhere to them. For example, what should a medical student do to practice “anti-racism” appropriately? Whatever that is, if she doesn’t (as UMMS understands the term), can she be fired for violating her oath? What if she refused to swear in the first place?

FIRE has definitely experienced professional program managers in medicineAnd the dentistAnd the Law – until cadaverology – who published vague “professional” standards to punish students for otherwise protected speech.

video The Minnesota concert comes at a time when similar DEI initiatives are spreading nationwide. experienced a huge fire to rise in colleges and universities forcing students, especially faculty, to pledge allegiance to the responsible self-concepts of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or “DEI.”

More than 10% of the campus-related cases in which FIRE is involved now relate to requirements that students and faculty show commitments or contributions to them, or file affidavits of land in person.

The University of Minnesota Medical School must “first, do no harm,” by respecting the basic constitutional rights of incoming students.

Again, while universities, students, and faculty are free to encourage or promote DEI-type values, forcing others to say they believe in these concepts not only conflicts with the legal obligations of many universities – but also violates their moral obligations.

Consider: Even students or faculty who broadly agree with the university’s position on DEI may think, for example, that acknowledgment of land is just performance. Or a faculty member who studies race and gender may have very divergent opinions about DEI that are not reflected in the university’s position. Likewise, students may disagree with other aspects of a particular DEI undertaking.

Medical students would probably be forced to read ideological undertakings literally if they wished to become doctors would be a new low.

The University of Minnesota Medical School must “first, do no harm,” by respecting the basic constitutional rights of incoming students. To do this, management must make it clear to its next class that UMMS will not compel them to express views they may not hold.


FIRE stands up for students and faculty – no matter what their opinions are. Are you a medical student required to recite an oath or pledge that you do not agree to? We would like to hear from you. Go to thefire.org/alarm to tell us more.

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