By Michael Ross and Diem Pham, Founding Partners, ROAMcare
When was the last time you read the Pharmacist’s Oath, officially the Oath of a Pharmacist. The words are read by every pharmacy class at white coat ceremonies, awards presentations, and commencements. Before there was a Pharmacist's Oath, variations on the Oath of Maimonides rang through the halls at pharmacy commencements. Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was a physician and philosopher during the twelfth century AD. He overcame persecution and exile to become a leading physician and who many consider the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, and a clinician whose skills were sought across continents. The words were tweaked for twentieth century medicine, but the idea was, and still is, as timeless as the rotation of the earth about the sun.
The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all times. … May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain. … Here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.
In 1983, a formal Oath of a Pharmacist was released by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Based on the Oath of Maimonides and with input from the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA), the oath points to pharmacists in service to humankind, that the character of the pharmacist as a professional is maintained by lifelong learning and active participation in the profession, that pharmacists hold high moral and ethical standards, that change is to be embraced, and that pharmacists will use their skills to prepare those who follow. Practicing what it preaches, the Oath since has been revised twice to reflect new standards in care and societal concerns. Now a new revision is being considered specifically to address the inclusion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism (DEIA) values.
Here is an opportunity for you to actively participate in your profession in a way seldom made available. The AACP is seeking comment on these changes and other general comments regarding the Oath of a Pharmacist by July 16, 2021. Are you happy with thee changes? Do they go far enough? Are they needed at all? Are key concepts of professionalism being replace, removed, overlooked, enhanced, strengthened, or all of the above? Do they set a standard that challenges the pharmacist's professionalism.
The Pharmacist’s Oath is important to the profession. Self-governance is one of the hallmarks of professionalism and should be important to you. The current version and proposed changes are reproduced below. You can submit comments, anonymously if you wish, at https://fs16.formsite.com/AACP/OathDEIA/index.html.
Do you remember when you said that you take your vows with the full realization of the responsibility as entrusted by the public and champion what is important in the profession? This is an opportunity to fully realize your responsibility and champion what is important in your profession.
The Oath of a Pharmacist with Proposed Revisions
I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow:
I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.
I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients. Proposed to change to: I will apply my knowledge and experience to advance health equity to assure optimal outcomes for all patients.
I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.
I will accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence. Proposed to change to: I will accept the responsibility to improve my professional knowledge, expertise, and self-awareness.
Proposed to add: I will champion diversity and inclusion, respect the perspectives of others, and mitigate my personal biases.
I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical and legal conduct.
I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.
I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.
I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.