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J Dent Educ. 2009 Jun;73(6):746-52.

Under oath: content analysis of oaths administered in ADA-Accredited Dental Schools in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

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College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University, 601 West 168th Street, Suite 32, New York, NY 10032, USA.


This study reviews and analyzes the content of dental school oaths taken by students in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico in 2006. Each oath was qualitatively reviewed to determine its consistency with each of the five principles set forth in the American Dental Association (ADA)'s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. Fifty-eight oaths were received from sixty-one of sixty-six schools in response to information requests regarding use of oaths and manner of administration. Of these, thirty-nine employ one oath, administered at either graduation or ceremonies marking transition to clinical training; twelve employ an oath at both occasions, with five repeating the same oath; and ten have no formal oaths. Eighteen oaths follow the wording of "The Dentist's Pledge," nine follow the "Oath to the Profession/Professional Pledge," three follow the Modern Hippocratic Oath, and twenty-eight are idiosyncratic. All five of the ADA principles (autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, and veracity) are addressed in thirteen oaths, four principles in nine oaths, and three or fewer principles in thirty-six oaths. Eleven make reference to care for the underserved. As oath-taking is an opportunity to instill and reinforce to students dentistry's most important ethical obligations, recommendations are offered to make the content more meaningful and comprehensive.

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