Aug. 31 2018

Shared Values: Our Public Health Oath

Recited by students at orientation and commencement, the Oath articulates a professional commitment to the guiding principles of the field.

The educational journey at the Columbia Mailman School begins and ends with the same words. Recited by students at Orientation and Commencement, our Public Health Oath articulates a professional commitment to the guiding principles of the field, beginning with the foundational understanding that health is a human right.

During her visit to see our Orientation, Laura Magaña, president and CEO of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, participated in the administration of the Oath. On Monday, she joined new students in the Allan Rosenfield Building’s 8th Floor Auditorium to stand and recite its words.

“Standing in the Columbia Mailman School auditorium while the future and current leaders of the public health field collectively recited our commitment to uphold the values that guide public health practice was truly an emotional and inspiring experience,” said Magaña. “It is a great tradition to come together as an academic community and remind one another of the transformative power our profession, grounded in service, science, and ethical practice brings to humanity.”

Ten years ago, Dean Linda P. Fried led a School-wide effort to develop a public health equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath. Just as new medical professionals pledge to “do no harm,” the Columbia Mailman Public Health Oath inscribes a shared ethic, including a pledge to protect the right to health and to practice public health adhering to the highest ethical standards, evidence, and respect for communities and cultures.  

The Public Health Oath

Health is a human right. The public health community exists to safeguard that right. I believe it is a defining element of a civil society. Public health represents the collective actions necessary to protect the health of all people. Through prevention science and practice we can accomplish this goal. As a public health professional, guided by these principles, I declare the following:

I will work to ensure that people have the chance to live full and productive lives, free from avoidable disease, injury, and disability and supported in their pursuit of physical, mental, and social well-being.

I will hold myself to the highest ethics, standards, values, and responsibilities as I move forward the science and practice of public health.

I will respect the rights, values, beliefs, and cultures of those individuals and communities with whom I work.

I will rely on evidence to support my decisions and actions, and translate that evidence into policies and programs that improve health for all.

I will add to the body of research and knowledge and share my discoveries freely.

I will continuously seek new information and be open to ideas that can better protect and promote the health of populations.

I will advance health literacy for all and seek equity and justice for vulnerable populations.

With this oath, I commit to the ideals and mission of public health.