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Commentary
November 01, 2005

Volunteerism

Arch Surg. 2005;140(11):1063-1065. doi:10.1001/archsurg.140.11.1063

Hippocrates was a Greek physician who lived and practiced medicine around 400 BC. One of his most important and enduring medical writings is the Hippocratic Oath, which has been sworn by physicians for more than 2000 years. By taking the Oath, we pledge ourselves to serve humanity with honesty, purity, beneficence, and without regard for personal gain. By inference, Hippocrates challenged us all to practice with competency and caring, to maintain at all times the highest moral standards, and to impart our knowledge of medicine to others. The current practice milieu with its ever-increasing and convoluted paperwork, managed health care regulation, decreased physician reimbursement, and heightened malpractice liability has diminished the “satisfaction quotient” that, for most physicians, has served as a significant motivator to select medicine as an avocation or calling. This disharmony has been compounded by the weakening of the physician-patient relationship, and it has caused many physicians to reconsider their choice of livelihood. The seriousness of these problems is reflected in accelerated career burnout, a greater sense of antipathy and disempowerment, and early migration from medical practice to alternative occupations.

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