Student Perspectives

Personal Prejudices in medicine by medical student Katherine French

Posted by Sheldon Rubenfeld on December 25, 2016

In my Baylor College of Medicine elective Healing by Killing: Medicine during the Third Reich, students struggle with their newly discovered knowledge about the best doctors in the world murdering Jews, people with disabilities, homosexuals, blacks, and many others. They find it even more difficult to understand how these medical killers could justify their actions by transforming the Hippocratic Oath from a doctor-patient relationship to a eugenic state-Volksk√∂rper relationship, thereby enabling the elimination of human beings perceived as a cancer on the nation’s body. Katherine notes that “Everyone has prejudices and everyone makes judgments about people before getting to know them, but as a physician your prejudices can have life-threatening consequences.” Her personal prescription to avoid repetition of the Nazi physicians’ medical crimes is “to take a look at the prejudices I have and confront them, however uncomfortable it might make me.”

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