The M.D. student Honor Code: A new spin on an old tradition

November 3, 2015

Honor Code signingWhen the Class of 2019 set out to develop an honor code this fall, they put their own unique stamp on a long-standing tradition.

The idea of honor codes originated in schools like West Point, as a university-established pledge to academic integrity. For the better part of the 20th century, universities and professional schools – including the OHSU School of Medicine – established and administered honor codes as an important part of a school's dedication to professional standards. At OHSU, this tradition is still alive today in the form of OHSU's Code of Conduct

However, today's medical student honor codes serve a different purpose: They seeks to articulate the values of a specific class of students and serve as an aspirational touch stone to guide that cohort in their medical school journey. Signing of the code is voluntary, which differs from most university codes, and the process by which students draft and refine that code is completely student-led. The M.D. Class of 2019 is the third cohort to draft and sign such a code in the School of Medicine.

Honor Code signingThe Class of 2019's Honor Code also ties into YOUR M.D. by giving students the opportunity to participate in early self-reflection. From the very first weeks of school, students are encouraged to think about what kind of doctors they want to be, what values they want to carry into professional practice and how they hope to relate to their patients, colleagues and self. 

"In the past, the focus of these kinds of codes has been on technical skills and scientific knowledge, but support for the M.D. student Honor Code is part of the School of Medicine's on-going pledge to the development of the whole physician," said George Mejicano, M.D., M.S., senior associate dean for education. "We are proud of the Class of 2019 and their commitment to life-long learning, mutuality, compassion and social justice," he said. 

See the Class of 2019's Honor Code.