King Charles III took an oath of lifelong service, not unlike that of medicine.
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In his first speech on the day after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles vowed to carry on her “lifelong service.” Of course, over her 70 years as Queen, her service was not bereft of criticisms amidst the commemorations. Moreover, whatever people thought about her as a person may or may not have fit what they thought of the institution of the monarchy and the status of the Commonwealth.
Perhaps all of that is similar to individual psychiatrists and the profession of psychiatry and the rest of medicine. We have our own oaths, traditionally the Hippocratic oath, but more recently many variations of that upon graduating from medical school.
Individually, patients often like their individual physicians while they may or may not feel the same about the field.
The key to understanding these reactions may be the word “service.” What does that mean to the British monarchy and what does it mean to us? In his speech, King Charles mentioned:
Other than substituting our ethical principles for their constitutional principles, wouldn’t these suffice for our own service to patients and the public?
This is not a one-way service road. Helping others is a powerful contribution to personal happiness.
Perhaps in the future, that would be the simple oath we can all take at graduation and appropriate renewal times, a promise of lifelong psychiatric service to all. Of course, the oath may be necessary, but not sufficient. The right actions fulfill the promises of any oath.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.