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Students with Exceptional Compassion are Named to Gold Humanism Honor Society

Miller School of Medicine leadership, family and friends joined a celebration of the compassion, empathy and patient advocacy of 30 new student members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

New members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society with Dr. Daniel Lichtstein, front row center.

“What we want to celebrate today is the resilience of our students who have been able to not only learn everything that’s been thrust their way, but to also be able to remember what it’s like to be on the other side,” Robert W. Irwin, M.D., professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and faculty advisor for the honor society, said at the April 2 induction. “These are the leaders of the future who can change what medicine is.

“We’re here to make the world a better place, we’re here to heal, but it’s not just the body. You need to feel medicine.”

The ideals advanced by the Gold Humanism Award “are progressively more important for this school and schools around the country,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy. “It’s no small honor, and a sense of great pride for us, to congratulate you on your induction into this society for the characteristics which it honors and what it means for the profession moving forward.”

The importance of understanding what it’s like to be a patient was a central theme of the keynote address by G. Patricia Cantwell, M.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Cantwell, who has responded to crises including 9/11 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010, was chosen by the inductees to speak at the event.

“Getting to know our patients as people goes a long way in developing a trusting relationship,” said Dr. Cantwell, who shared some reflections from her life “that bolstered the realization that the field of medicine is more than being book smart and masterful with technology.”

“I recall sitting on a very cold examining table in my pediatrician’s office, freezing, while all the questions were directed to my mother … ‘Does her ear hurt? Does she have a cough?’

“Years later, I brought my aging mother with dementia to her doctor’s appointment and thought it was quite dehumanizing that there was no effort to ask my mother how she felt. All questions were directed to me.”

Dr. Patricia Cantwell addresses the inductees.

Patients can become dehumanized by any illness, through such things as a change in appearance, a loss of ability to communicate, or an inability to advocate for themselves, Dr. Cantwell said. Compassionate, comprehensive care from physicians is essential.

“Keep learning, advocating, and making a difference,” she said. “We all need reminders of the patient experience … Be relentless in bringing your passion to your patients and continuing to advocate for humanistic patient care.”

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award was presented to Daniel M. Lichtstein, M.D., regional dean for medical education. Dr. Lichtstein was introduced by Gauri Agarwal, M.D., associate regional dean for medical curriculum and the 2017 winner of the Leonard Tow award, presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which also sponsors the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

“I’ve learned everything about medical education from him,” Dr. Agarwal said of Dr. Lichtstein, expressing gratitude for his “quiet strength and confidence, mixed with wisdom and love.”

Dr. Lichtstein shared some favorite quotes with the audience, including one from poet William Wordsworth that he has put on cards he gives to students and residents: “The best portion of a good person’s life is his or her little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”

A favorite motto of Sir William Osler, one of the founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, described by Dr. Lichtstein as an iconic educator, was “Do the kind thing, and do it first.”

“My patients through the years have taught me so much, especially what it meant to be with them in the moment,” Dr. Lichtstein said. “You cannot control everything, but you can control how you react and how you act.  React with kindness, humility, integrity, honesty and compassion.”

Physicians’ actions often speak volumes. “These students have exemplified the pillars of compassion, empathy and caring for their patients in a way that exceeds all of our expectations,” said Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate dean for student services. “We hope they will continue to value those incredible qualities that are easily lost as we move forward with the rigors of the profession of medicine.

“We’re just so very, very proud of them.”

The newly elected members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society are:

M.D. students

Michelle Bartlett

Elizabeth Bolton

Wei Chen

Stephen Cresse

Neelima Gaddipati

Shireen Rachel Golpanian

Elaine Han

Alejandro Hermida

Vincent Hsu

Samantha Langer

Jessica Moore

Meera Nagarsheth

Natalia Parra

Debbie Pan

Madhumita Parmar

Stefanie Pena

Shaina Sedighim

Sarah Sukkar

Rochelle Wang

Natalie Williams

Yao Yang


M.D./M.P.H. students

Corinne Bullock

Kelsey Franklin

Carolina Gonzales

Daniel Lopez

Kayla Polcari

Kasra Sarhadi

Camille Scott

Andrew Stine-Rowe

Felicia Yan






Tags: Dr. Daniel Lichtstein, Dr. Patricia Cantwell, Dr. Robert Irwin, Gold Humanism Honor Society