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Objectives

This paper aims to honour the Hippocratic Oath in modern practice by providing reflections on the development of ways for doctors to know the whole person that have accrued over the five decades to the present.

Methods

I present a perspective piece, which includes personal reflections and cites relevant literature.

Results

Powerful role models sustained the concept of knowing the whole patient in an era of scientific medicine. Beginning in the 1980s, skills allowing ordinary doctors to know the whole patient were made transparent to learners in courses and medical school curricula. As we approach the 2020s, increasing numbers of doctors have mastered these skills and are teaching them.

Conclusions

A modern way of practice is emerging; this emphasises the human side of medicine and its rewards, despite barriers such as those imposed by time limitations.