May 10, 2003
oath taking

Last night was the Hippocratic Oath ceremony. A moist May evening. As we walked from the South Clinics out to Davison Quad, the Chapel bells were ringing most academically. My polyester PhD robe was a puffy, hot, and Duke blue affair. I tried to wear it as little as possible with the heat until our pre-ceremony Class Photo session forced us to line up on the Old Chem steps for our digital firing squad. Several years ago, the class that I felt the most emotionally connected to, my entering class, graduated. As a late appendage, I couldn't feel the commonality of shared experience. The class photo I have in my room is that one.

The actual ceremony is a formal affair where the graduating seniors line up alphabetically to file into the Chapel, its organ precessing, in something akin to a marriage ceremony. The Chapel was quite full and there was David, Pearl, and Nathan on the right, Tyler and Jake hollering for my attention, Mme. Rosse waving from up front on the right. On these occasions Duke was so smart to have built a "Chapel", though as Dr. Halperin pointed out in his excellent address, it really is a Cathedral aside from its lacking a bishop.

They had us seated in rows in the front, and Dr. Halperin thundered away on the millenia-old tradition of medicine, the etymological origins of our hallowed tradition, even a close reading of the actual Hebrew of Exodus 3, and that what it means to stand on sacred ground. His interpretation was that the intent of the passage was that the ground under your feet is sacred wherever you go; thus, standing before a patient in the clinic, we must understand our sacred role. The address was a good one.

We recited the Hippocratic Oath (of course one of its modern versions) and each went up to the altar to be hooded and receive a scroll inscribed with his name and the Oath. I felt sorry for the audience having to sweat through 87 of these. And now I'm wedded to my calling.

After the recessional (more traditional wedding music, Vierne), we emerged into the soft night. I found my father and spoke with Nancy Major, easily the most warm-hearted attending in the hospital, Jake and Tyler gave me a picture frame Jake made with their photos, insisting that I come babysit them soon. Tyler comically donned my cap.

Joe and Mike were there and much appreciated for their attendance, and the Rosses where there to witness the remarkable occasion that their neighbor had actually done with school.

Posted by erich at May 10, 2003 04:57 PM
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