Newest VP&S Students Recite Their Own Oath at White Coat Ceremony

The 140 members of the Class of 2025 were welcomed into the profession of medicine at August’s White Coat Ceremony with the usual traditions but with one twist: The class decided to write and recite a new class oath that updated the Hippocratic Oath usually recited each year.

Students decided on a new oath (see next page) that better reflects the values they wish to uphold as they enter their medical training. The oath includes a commitment to “acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists within all communities, and the formative influence that the Washington Heights community will have on my future as a physician.” This year’s ceremony at the Armory was an in-person event with limited faculty and guests. The ceremony was also available via Zoom.

The idea for a new oath came up in 2020 shortly before the White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2024. The students did not have enough time to develop a new oath, so members of the Class of 2024 asked to help members of this year’s incoming class develop a class oath. The writing took place over many weeks during the summer, with current MD students trained by the VP&S education office as writing facilitators to work with incoming students and collaborating faculty members. Going forward, each incoming MD class will have the opportunity to create its own oath.

The VP&S Class of 2025 has more students from underrepresented minority backgrounds than any medical school class in Columbia’s history.

Earlier in the week, VP&S Alumni Association staff distributed personally engraved stethoscopes to each member of the Class of 2025. Stethoscopes are donated each year by VP&S alumni to welcome new students to the medical profession. More than 2,000 stethoscopes have been donated since the tradition began in 2007.


Class of 2025 Oath

“We enter the profession of medicine with appreciation for the opportunity to build on the scientific and humanistic achievements of the past. We also recognize the acts and systems of oppression effected in the name of medicine. We take this oath of service to begin building a future grounded in truth, restoration, and equity to fulfill medicine’s capacity to liberate. 

I make this pledge to myself, my classmates and future colleagues, and the individuals and communities I will serve. 

I acknowledge that my role is to inform my patients, accompany them in moments of wellness and vulnerability, and respect their privacy and autonomy while empowering them to flourish.

I promise to take care of my future patients by engaging in dialogue, listening to their lived experience, and tailoring my recommendations to their unique circumstances. 

I commit to honor the relationship formed between patient and physician by maintaining confidentiality at all times. 

I vow to contribute to the field of medicine through ethical study and equitable evidence-based care, and to treat my patients and represent my profession with compassion, humility, and equanimity. 

I acknowledge the past and present failures of medicine to abide by its obligation to do no harm and affirm the need to address systemic issues in the institutions I uphold. 

I promise to critically examine the systems and experiences that impact every person’s health and ability to receive care. 

I vow to use this knowledge to uplift my patients and disrupt the injustices that harm them as I forge the future of medicine. 

I acknowledge the background and experiences that enrich my perspectives while recognizing the limitations, shortcomings, and biases that I bring to each encounter with patients and colleagues. 

I promise to self-reflect diligently, to confront unconscious prejudices, and to develop the skills, knowledge, and character necessary to engender an inclusive, equitable field of medicine. 

I commit to fostering empathy and a culture of care, not just for our patients but for ourselves and our colleagues in healthcare. 

I vow to remember the humanity and fallibility of myself and every member of the care team, and to call upon my colleagues for assistance in recognition of the limits of my knowledge and skills. 

I acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists within all communities, and the formative influence that the Washington Heights community will have on my future as a physician. 

I promise to respect, regardless of identity or socioeconomic status, the fundamental dignity of all patients, colleagues, and community members, and their right to quality care. 

I vow to restore trust where it has been broken and to inspire and nurture trust in the relationships I build with patients, through collaborative effort with my classmates, colleagues, and communities. 

Let us bow our heads in recognition of the gravity of this oath; we swear to faithfully engage with these ideals and obligations for the ongoing betterment of medicine and humanity.”


About the Class of 2025

140 students

• 112 MD students

• 14 MD-PhD students

• 10 Columbia-Bassett students 

• 2 PhD-to-MD students

• 2 oral and maxillofacial surgery students

69 women/71 men

39 underrepresented minorities (28%)

10 first-generation college students (7%) 

8,080 total applications

852 applicants interviewed

60 colleges represented

34 states represented

12 foreign countries represented