VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, June 21, 2019

In Season of Transition, A Constant

Good morning!

For many, summertime can equate to a slower time at work.  That isn’t necessarily true for employees and learners at an academic medical center.  In addition to the regular flow of responsibilities, at UMMC, summer is a time of transition when we’ve been saying goodbye to our graduates and have begun welcoming new students throughout our educational programs

VC_June_21_Psychiatry.jpgWe also say farewell to retiring faculty and staff – we’ll host the annual retirement ceremony next Friday – and will begin welcoming new faculty for the start of a brand new academic year on July 1. 

As announced previously, in July we will welcome two leaders into two new roles in our academic programs.  Dr. Demondes Haynes will become associate dean for medical school admissions and Dr. Julie Sanford will join us as dean of the School of Nursing.  Again, I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Steve Manuel for his four and a half years of service in medical admissions and to Dr. Mary Stewart for her service as interim dean of nursing following the departure of Dr. Kim Hoover.

In about 10 days we will welcome the incoming class of 170 new resident physicians and 50 new fellows.  About a third of the residents will be our own medical graduates, and the remainder will be joining us from other medical education programs across the country.  Among the fellows, about half are graduates of UMMC residencies.  We welcome them all!

Recently I ran across a new creation of our residents in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.  As part of an exercise at a retreat this spring, Dr. Scott Rodgers, chair of the department, asked the residents to create a professional oath.  “As you know,” Dr. Rodgers explained, “we are often asked to take an oath, whether it is for our profession, our marriage or maybe something like citizenship.  These oaths are based on principles, ethical standards and aspirational goals that help define our behavior and provide us with a code of conduct, and I think that’s important.  By asking the residents to participate in the exercise of writing their own professional oath, I was hoping they would give some thought, at a deep level, about why they chose to pursue a career in psychiatry and how they should conduct themselves throughout their careers.”

Dr. Rodgers said the oath has been printed on the back of the program for tonight’s departmental residency graduation ceremony.  Although all the residents contributed ideas to the oath, the actual writers were Dr. Lakeshia Gibson, Dr. Justin Jones, Dr. Mary Claire Meeks, Dr. Yolanda Ross and Dr. Alexandra Sibley.  I congratulate them.

What a wonderful way to explore what it means to be a psychiatrist, or for that matter, a health care provider of any sort.  Though the oath is specific to psychiatry, I was struck by how widely applicable it is to other disciplines.  I’m sharing it here for your enjoyment and reflection.


A Psychiatrist’s Oath

I will hold dear the privilege of practicing psychiatry and remember my duty to my patients, their families, my community and the profession.

I will support my patients’ autonomy and maintain professional boundaries, partnering with my patients in their treatment and always striving first to do no harm.

I pledge to be respectful to my patients at all times, realizing the impact of my words; I will act with empathy and honor our common humanity.

I will care for my patients with acceptance and without judgment, recognize the importance of confidentiality and hold in esteem the therapeutic alliance which we share.

Advocacy and justice for my patients and the field will guide my practice of psychiatry, and I vow to offer a voice to those without voices.

I commit to reduce stigmatization of psychiatric illness; I agree to raise awareness through leadership and education.

I will lead a life of continuous learning, promising to remain curious and engage in furthering the understanding of evidence-based practices.

I will acknowledge my mistakes with humility and honesty; I will realize the limits of my own abilities and not be ashamed to ask for assistance from my peers and colleagues.

I will not forget my own humanity and that in order to take care of others, I must not neglect the care of myself.

I will recall this oath throughout my career and not forsake these tenets. I will invariably acknowledge that patient care is the driving force for the ever-evolving art and science of psychiatry.


In this season of transition, of beginnings and endings, it’s a good time to take a moment to think about those unchanging, fundamental principles of why we do what we do, and why it matters, on our way toward A Healthier Mississippi.



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