Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician [cover] (1988)
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: I. The Challenge of Medical Practice: Presented at the Commencement Exercises of
the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland (May
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: II. The Physician-Patient Relationship: Presented at the Sesquicentennial Commencement
Exercises of Albany Medical College, Saratoga Springs, New York (May 26, 1988)
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: III. Responding to the Handicapped Patient: Presented to the Graduating Class of
Baylor Medical College, Houston, Texas (May 27, 1988)
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: IV. Responding to the Aging Patient: Presented to the Graduating Class of Kirksville
College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Missouri (June 6, 1988)
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: V. Responding to the Patient with AIDS: Presented at Class Day Exercises at Harvard
Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (June 9, 1988)
Ethical Imperatives and the New Physician: VI. Responding to the Patients of Tomorrow: Presented at the Commencement Exercises
of the University of Health Sciences/ The Chicago Medical School, Chicago, Illinois (June 13, 1988)
All of the time I was Surgeon General and ever since, I have had repeated invitations to give commencement addresses in all
types of venues. The time of a commencement address is a wonderful time for a Surgeon General's message to reach a particular
class of people at a particularly important time of their lives. Therefore, I accepted many of these invitations because of
that opportunity. Some commencement addresses come with an honorary degree and as of the time of this writing I have accumulated
41 of them, but that was not my reason for accepting the invitations. Just so the user won't think that I'm a collector
of honorary degrees, let me say that in the of spring 1990, the first spring after I left my second term as Surgeon General,
I turned down 30 invitations to accept an honorary degree.
In the fall of 1987 and the spring of 1988, six special opportunities arose. Each was at a school of medicine and it occurred
to me that I could accomplish their purposes, as well as my own, while I was in public office, much better than I could at
any other time of my life. Therefore, I elected to accept six invitations and made up my mind that I would address aspects
of major concerns of mine: "Ethical Imperatives of the Young Physician". The first one chronologically was at the
F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. I chose
there to speak on the "Challenge of Medical Practice". The second was to the Albany Medical College (held at Saratoga
Springs, New York) on the subject of the "Physician-Patient Relationship". The third was to the graduating class of
Baylor Medical College in Houston, Texas and the subject was "Responding to the Handicapped Patient". The fourth was
presented to the Graduating Class of Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Missouri and the title was "Responding
to the Aging Patient". The fifth was presented before the Class Day Exercises, presented the day preceding commencement
of the entire University, to the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts on the subject of "Responding to the
Patient with AIDS". And the sixth and last was to the University of Health Sciences/Chicago Medical School in Chicago,
Illinois on the subject of "Responding to the Patients of Tomorrow".
Unique opportunity, I thought, that this presented was not only to address each of these classes on an important subject that
they should be aware of for their future, but it would be possible for me to have all six commencement addresses bound in
a simple volume and make a presentation during the following summer to every one of the medical students in all six graduating
This was quite an undertaking, but with the help of my special assistant and speechwriter, Theodore Cron, the project was
completed and we did send to each graduate of the six medical schools, a bound volume in the summer of 1988.
The opening and the closing of each lecture was the same. Sandwiched between these was a different message for each class.
I made a special effort to explain at the beginning of each lecture what I have just described here including the fact that
each student would receive during the summer a bound volume of all six lectures at a particular time in their careers when
such an ethical collection might be important. I've always been pleased I didn't choose to talk about etiquette, because
out of those approximately eight hundred students, I never saw a thank you from anyone, and although my mail was voluminous
and it's possible I might miss a piece here and there, the system was pretty efficient.
These were not the only commencement addresses I gave that spring. I also gave addresses at Colby Sawyer College in New London,
New Hampshire; the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in Philadelphia; Colby College, Waterville, Maine; the North
Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois; and spoke at the Centennial of the Minnesota Medical School.