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A ceremony to mark the transition of medical education from largely classroom instruction to the clinical years is a relatively recent phenomenon. The event is held at the end of the second year of classes, when students have been in clinical settings and have had time to reflect on what it means to be a physician. The ceremony includes an address by a faculty member chosen by the class, presentation of Outstanding Medical Educator awards and students’ recitation of the oath they have written.
The Class of 2000 was the first to write their own oath. The project begins as an exercise in the doctoring and clinical skills course. After having spent some months in classes and in their preceptors' offices, students read and consider historical and modern oaths, reflect on what patients look for in physicians and on what sorts of physicians they hope to become and write down ideas to include in a professional oath. A smaller group then turns those thoughts into a written oath, which the class reviews, critiques and presents at the Class Oath Ceremony.