I Swear by Apollo…

male indian doctor in white coat and stethoscope swearing hippocratic oathBy Casey Jones, CAPP

I always believed the Hippocratic Oath was little more than a promise to do no harm. To my surprise, and in addition to swearing to the healing gods Apollo, Asciepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, there is a lot more to the promises doctors make than what was in my head for the better part of five decades. The Oath addresses ethics, morals, confidentiality, the important relationship between teachers and students, and more! In slightly more words than this blog post, it covers a ton of ground and has guided careers from start to finish.

A few days ago, I visited my doctor for an annual checkup. It’s an important thing to do and I’ll sheepishly admit to being a few years late this time around. At any rate, my doctor said something to me that made me think of the Hippocratic Oath. As he looked over my records and blood test results, he gave me welcome approval and shared that there seemed nothing he could recommend at the moment that would make my life better. And there it was: His desire is to make the lives of his patients better. That’s much more than treating my ailments—which may only make my life more bearable—and it’s far and away a higher bar than simply hoping to not make me and my “condition” worse. But should the lofty goal of contributing to the betterment of others be reserved for M.D.s?

The right answer is certainly no. We all have the ability through our work, family life, and communities to improve the lives of those with whom we interact. It may just require a promise of our own.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is senior parking & mobility planner with DESMAN.