Oaths, Quotes, and Prayers for Physicians

"I want to be a doctor so that I can heal people and serve humanity..." Sounds familiar? For most of us, those sincere words represent the noble purpose of medicine which first attracted us to the field. However, more often than not, as the years pass by, such words lose its meaning as the stressful years of medical school and residency take its toll in the minds of the idealistic young doctors. The daily drudgery of our lives spent studying for the tons of exams, the USMLE, the sleepless nights on-call taking care of a never-ending list of critical patients , leave us tired, embittered, and disenchanted.

This page was created in an effort to remind my fellow physicians of what medicine is all about --- its noble role to society and to mankind. The message in these pages was meant to give you strength during the trying times of our career when we tend to forget about the essence of our chosen profession.

The oaths, quotes, and prayers in this page were selected to guide you in your daily work as THE GOOD DOCTOR.

May all of us always strive to preserve the soul of medicine...

The Hippocratic Oath
The Declaration of Geneva


Daily Prayer of a Physician
Prayer to Protect Life
Prayer for the Sick
Prayer for the Dead



 O A T H S 

These timeless oaths embody a lot of the rules of medical ethics. From patient confidentiality to the doctrine of primum non nocere, physicians for centuries have looked upon these oaths to guide their daily practice of medicine. There are several variations used by the different medical schools all over the world but the spirit of these words remain the same.

The Hippocratic Oath

(Fifth century, B.C.)

I swear by Apollo the physician, by Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that according to my ability and my judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation--to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that system or regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons labouring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves

Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.


The Declaration of Geneva

(Written in 1948 and amended to the current form in 1983 by the World Medical Association.)

I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;

I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;

I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;

The health of my patient will be my first consideration;

I will respect the secrets which are confided in me, even after the patient has died;

I will maintain by all means in my power the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession;

My colleagues will be my brothers;

I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;

I make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon my honor.



Doctors have always been fond of referring to each other for opinions -- medical or otherwise. It is in this light that I included these quotes so that you can "refer" to these other people and gather their words of wisdom.

" One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient."

- Frances Weld Peabody in "The Care of the Patient"

"Being a good doctor means being incredibly compulsive. It has nothing to do with flights of intuition or brilliant diagnoses or even saving lives. It's dealing with a lot of people with chronic diseases that you really can't change or improve. You can help patients. You can make a difference in their lives, but you do that mostly by drudgery--day after day paying attention to details, seeing patient after patient and complaint after complaint, and being responsive on the phone when you don't feel like being responsive."

-from "M.D.-Doctors Talk About Themselves" by John Pekkanen

"Surgeons must be very careful

When they take the knife!

Underneath their fine incisions

Stirs the Culprit---Life!"

-Emily Dickinson

"It's the humdrum, day-in, day-out, everyday work that is the real satisfaction of the practice of medicine; the million and a half patients a man has seen on his daily visits over a forty-year period of weekdays and Sundays that make up his life. I have never had a money practice; it would have been impossible for me. But the actual calling on people, at all times and under all conditions, the coming to grips with the intimate conditions of their lives, when they were being born, when they were dying, watching them die, watching them get well when they were ill, has always absorbed me."

-William Carlos Williams in "The Practice"

"All of us who attempt to heal the wounds of others will ourselves be wounded; it is, after all, inherent in the relationship."

-from "Healing the Wounds" by David Hilfiker, M.D.

"To be a doctor, then, means much more than to dispense pills or to patch up or repair torn flesh and shattered minds. To be a doctor is to be an intermediary between man and God."

-from "To Be a Doctor " by Felix Marti-Ibanez

"This rush toward what some have termed the 'commercialization' of medicine and others have called the 'industrialization' of medicine has bewildered physicians, perhaps because we have instinctively sensed that although there have always been some business aspects to medical practice, medicine, in the most fundamental sense, is not a business."

-from "The Medical Practice in the Competitive Market" in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2/5/87

"You can't know it all. And even if you knew everything that anyone else knows (which you can't, so stop worrying about it), you still wouldn't know what you need to know to help many patients."

-from "A Not Entirely Benign Procedure" by Perri Klass

"Doctors are only people. They're not saints whose word is the final and absolute end. Their knowledge is often tentative, their understanding empiric and imperfect, and their motivations frequently mixed...Doctors who didn't understand they were only human were less likely to admit they made mistakes or that their patients could sometimes be right and they could sometimes be wrong."

-from "The Making of a Psychiatrist" by David Viscott, M.D.

"From inability to let alone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom, and science before art, and cleverness before common sense; from treating patients as cases; and from making cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord, deliver us."

-Sir Robert Hutchinson



For physicians who believe in God, prayers have always been a source of comfort. These prayers were selected to help you deal with the times when you are amidst death and sorrow.

Daily Prayer of a Physician

("Prayer of Maimonides" attributed to Moses Maimonides, a twelfth-century Jewish physician in Egypt, but probably written by Marcus Herz, a German physician. First appeared in print in 1793. Translated by Harry Friedenwald in the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1917)

Almighty God, Thou has created the human body with infinite wisdom. Ten thousand times ten thousand organs hast Thou combined in it that act unceasingly and harmoniously to preserve the whole in all its beauty the body which is the envelope of the immortal soul. They are ever acting in perfect order, agreement and accord. Yet, when the frailty of matter or the unbridling of passions deranges this order or interrupts this accord, then forces clash and the body crumbles into the primal dust from which it came.

Thou sendest to man diseases as beneficient messengers to foretell approaching danger and to urge him to avert it. Thou hast blest Thine earth, Thy rivers and Thy mountains with healing substances; they enable Thy creatures to alleviate their sufferings and to heal their illnesses. Thou hast endowed man with the wisdom to relieve the suffering of his brother, to recognize his disorders, to extract the healing substances, to discover their powers and to prepare and to apply them to suit every ill.

In Thine Eternal Providence Thou hast chosen me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. I am now about to apply myself to the duties of my profession. Support me, Almighty God, in these great labors that they may benefit mankind, for without Thy help not even the least thing will succeed. Inspire me with love for my art and for Thy creatures. Do not allow thirst for profit, ambition for renown and admiration, to interfere with my profession, for these are the enemies of truth and of love for mankind and they can lead astray in the great task of attending to the welfare of Thy creatures.

Preserve the strength of my body and of my soul that they ever be ready to cheerfully help and support rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being. Illumine my mind that it recognize what presents itself and that it may comprehend what is absent or hidden. Let it not fail to see what is visible, but do not permit it to arrogate itself the power to see what cannot be seen, for delicate and indefinite are the bounds of the great art of caring for the lives and health of Thy creatures. Let me never be absent-minded. May no strange thoughts divert my attention at the bedside of the sick, or disturb my mind in its silent labors, for great and sacred are the thoughtful deliberations required to preserve the lives and health of Thy creatures

Grant that my patients have confidence in me and my art and follow my directions and counsel. Remove from their midst all charlatans and the whole host of officious relatives and know-all nurses, cruel people who arrogantly frustrate the wisest purposes of our art and often lead Thy creatures to their death.

Should those who are wiser than I wish to improve and instruct me, let my soul gratefully follow their guidance; for vast is the extent of our art. Should conceited fools, however, censure me, then let love for my profession steel me against them, so that I remain steadfast without regard for age, for reputation, or for honor, because surrender would bring Thy creatures sickness and death.

Imbue my soul with gentleness and calmness when older colleagues, proud of their age, wish to displace me or scorn me or disdainfully teach me. May even this be of advantage to me, for they know many things of which I am ignorant, but let not their arrogance give me pain. For they are old and old age is not master of the passions. I also hope to attain old age upon this earth, before Thee, Almighty God!

Let me be contented in everything except in the great science of my profession. Never allow the thought to arise in me that I have attained to sufficient knowledge, but vouchsafe to me the strength, the leisure and the ambition ever to extend my knowledge. For art is great, but the mind of man is ever expanding.

Almighty God! Thou hast chosen me in Thy mercy to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures. I now apply myself to my profession. Support me in this greaty task so that it may benefit mankind, for without Thy help not even the least thing will succeed.


Prayer to Protect Life

Loving God, I thank you for the gift of life you gave and continue to give to me and to all of us.

Merciful God, I ask your pardon and forgiveness for my own failure and the failure of all people to respect and foster all forms of life in our universe.

Gracious God, I pray that with your grace, I and all people will reverence, protect, and promote all life and that we will be especially sensitive to the life of the unborn, the abused, neglected, disabled, and the elderly. I pray, too, that all who make decisions about life in any form will do so with wisdom, love, and courage.

Living God, I praise and glorify you as Father, Source of all life, as Son, Savior of our lives, and as Spirit, Sanctifier of our lives.


Sister Mary Margaret Johanning, S.S.N.D.
Nihil Obstat: Joseph F. Martino
Imprimatur: Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia, June 1994


Prayer for the Sick

Dear Lord, you bore our sufferings and carried our sorrows in order to show us clearly the value of human weakness and patience.

I now turn to you to ask you to heal the soul and body of _______(name)_______

I know, Lord, that sin tears away relationships between people and you. But there is no illness and no wound that you cannot heal.

Come and touch _______(name)_______ where he/she is most wounded and afflicted.

I believe in your healing power and I trust and hope that you will hear my request for my sick brother/sister.

If it is your will, however, that _______(name)_______ should carry this cross of illness then I humbly pray that you give him/her the strength and perseverance to bear his/her cross with love.

Grant that he/she and all those who are now weighed down with pain and other afflictions may realize that they are among the chosen ones whom you call blessed.

Help them to understand that they are united with you in your sufferings for the salvation of the world.



Prayer for the Dead

Lord help us to see death for what it really is,
the end of poverty and the beginning of riches;
the end of frustration and the beginning of fulfillment;
the end of fear
and the beginning of tranquillity;
the end of pain and the beginning of joy;
the end of weakness
and the beginning of strength.

Let not grief overwhelm us, or a sense of loss embitter us.
But out of our sadness let there arise a new joy for so much given to us.
Cast out our fears and let not our hearts be troubled.
Let your spirit of peace come alive within our experience and hurt,
our sorrow and isolation,
our sadness today and loneliness tomorrow.

We humbly commend to you, _______(name of deceased)_______ whom you have called out of this mortal life.
You loved him/her always with great love.
Now that you have freed him/her from all evils of this earth, bring him/her into your paradise where there is no more grief or mourning, or sadness but peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit forever.

We thank you for all the blessings you have given to _______(name of deceased)_______ in his/her mortal life.
We pray that he/she may be able to glorify you with the life that he/she lived and the way he/she made use of his/her blessings.

Lord God, grant that we will never forget that life is short and uncertain.
Let your spirit guide us in holiness, justice and service to our brothers and sisters.

We pray for the healing of all unhappy feelings _______(name of deceased)_______ 's death now leaves in our hearts.
Be with us, Lord, during our moments of sorrow and loneliness.
You are our rock, our fortress and our strength.
We trust
in you and hope in your glorious resurrection.
We lift up to you our grief and sorrow confident that you will change our mourning to rejoicing that our beloved _______(name of deceased)_______ now rests in your peace.


Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord.

And let your perpetual light shine upon him/her.

May he/she rest in peace.


May the soul of _______(name of deceased)_______ and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.



I hope this page has helped you, THE GOOD DOCTOR.

If you have any comments, suggestions or complaints ,you can reach me by Email.

Physician's prayers from other religious denominations are most welcome.

This site has been selected the website of the month for March/April 1996 by the Resources for Primary Care Physicians!

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I hope this page has helped you, THE GOOD DOCTOR.

Physician's prayers from other religious denominations are most welcome.

This site has been selected the website of the month for March/April 1996 by the Resources for Primary Care Physicians!

Maintained by Josefina M. Sta.Romana, M.D.

If you have any comments, suggestions or complaints ,

you can reach me at 01/02/2000

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