Being a 'martyr' no good for doctors

  • Updated
  • 15/10/2017

A New Zealand doctor has made medical history this weekend by making a change to the international doctors' oath.

The World Medical Association has approved a change to the Declaration of Geneva, so doctors now vow to make their own health and wellbeing a priority, as well as their patients'.

Kiwi doc Sam Hazledine says GPs have to look after themselves too.

"When you realise being a martyr is not actually helping you be the best doctor, then it's time to change."

The Declaration of Geneva is considered the modern medical profession's equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath. It was first adopted in 1948, in response to the atrocities carried out by the Nazis in the name of research.

More than 4500 doctors signed a petition in support of the change. Dr Hazledine says the change will do the profession the world of good.

"Stress leads to depersonalisation, which is an emotional disconnection from your patients. Depersonalisation leads to increases in major medical errors. The way we're being doctors is actually harming our patients."

The oath has only been amended three times before in its almost 70-year history.

"It's not a change in direction - it's more of a course correction. It's us as a profession becoming better."