Compassionate Medical Students Join a ‘Community of Champions for Humanism’
Thirty future leaders of medicine, nominated by their fellow medical students for their exceptional compassion and empathy, were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the Miller School of Medicine on Monday.
“You are joining a community of champions for humanism,” said Robert W. Irwin, M.D., professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and faculty advisor for the Miller School chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. During the virtual ceremony he described the many rewards and the life-changing significance of delivering compassionate patient care.
“When you treat people like family, they become family,” Dr. Irwin said, paying tribute to a patient who read a poem to him during every visit. “This is what we strive for – that patients will come to us for everything.”
Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, congratulated the students and talked to them about “a topic that is near and dear to my heart: humanism, teamwork, the pursuit of excellence and the quest for significance.”
“Every one of us can make a contribution to making the world a better place to live,” Dean Ford said. “We must start by pursuing excellence. True and enduring excellence is best achieved through teamwork. It starts locally and expands globally.”
Among Dean Ford’s examples of leaders who expanded excellence to achieve significance locally and globally is Paul Farmer, who “came from humble beginnings and then spent a year in Haiti, which changed his life.” Dr. Farmer started Partners in Health, which focuses on prevention and primary care for people who live in poverty, and built a 104-bed hospital that serves an area of 1.2 million people and employs 4,000 Haitians.
At that hospital Dean Ford led the multinational team that performed the first separation of conjoined twins in Haiti.
“Whatever position you achieve in life, you can use it to make the world a better place,” Dean Ford told the students. “You have truly begun your personal quest for significance.”
Each student made a brief comment thanking family, faculty and their fellow inductees. “Thanks to all the inspirational teachers who helped me become the person I am today,” said Jungwon Choi.
“You constantly make me realize how much good there is in this world,” said Priyen Patel.
“It gives me hope to know that there are going to be doctors like you in the world,” said Jeanette Brown.
The Gold Humanism Honor Society was started by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, “which champions the human connection in health care.” The students took the Gold Humanism Oath:
- I will care for my patients with compassion, respect, empathy, integrity and clinical excellence.
- I will listen to my patients with my whole being.
- I will advocate for each patient as a unique individual.
- I will serve as a role model and mentor to promote humanism in health care.
- I will remember always the healing power of acts of caring.
- I will dedicate myself to joining with others to make health care optimal for all.
Stephen N. Symes, M.D., associate professor of medicine, told the students, “As you reflect on this award you received, this is not a faculty award, not from getting great grades, this truly is an award of recognition from your peers. It’s awarded to you because of empathy and because of compassion.
“But without action and advocacy, empathy and compassion are like thoughts and prayers – very nice to hear, but meaningless if you don’t put forth and produce,” Dr. Symes said. “You have been recognized for your compassion and advocacy, and you should have a great feeling inside. We are proud of all of you.
“The expectation we have is that you won’t stop here, that you will continue to provide that service, that excellence, and most importantly that you will speak up and be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”