Each year, third-year medical students are nominated by their peers for induction into the Gold Humanism Honors Society (GHHS). Students select candidates that best exemplify empathy, compassion, altruism, integrity and service in their relationships with patients and others in the field of medicine to join the select group.
At the recent GHHS ceremony, 15 new student members from the class of 2013 and six faculty members and residents were inducted into the society. The event was held at the Old Library and attended by faculty, staff and students.
Karen Deveney, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery, made the keynote speech. “While all of the students admitted to our medical school are selected with the expectation that they hold such values, some stand out as they pursue the journey toward their medical degree,” she said. “The skills of communication, empathy and compassion are as valued as the high-tech skills students learn while in medical school.”
Established in 2002, the GHHS is an international association of individuals and medical school chapters. Its mission is to foster, recognize and support the values of humanism and professionalism in medicine. The GHHS commits itself to work within and beyond medical education to inspire, nurture and sustain lifelong advocates and activists for compassionate patient care.
OHSU started its GHHS chapter last spring, helped by the effort of Chapter Advisor Carrie Phillipi, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics. “This year, OHSU joined about 90 medical schools by establishing a GHHS chapter,” said Dr. Phillipi. “After initiating our first class, we’ve spent time forming the backbone of what we know is a much larger community of OHSU students, residents and faculty interested in promoting compassionate patient care. There is a measurable decline in empathy which occurs during medical training and our chapter is interested in reversing this decline—we hope to place emphasis on the power of communication and kindness.”
Fourth-year medical student and GHHS member Daniel Knoepflmacher said, “Our local chapter includes medical students, residents and faculty who meet periodically to work together on projects to promote humanism in the community.”
“Since initiation, GHHS students have carried on a book club tradition started by our former Associate Dean, Dr. Tana Grady-Weliky, who died unexpectedly,” said Dr. Phillipi. “Tana’s Book Club is attended by interested third or fourth year medical students. Held at a faculty member’s home, thought-provoking books with social impact are discussed in an intimate setting.”
GHHS members are active in peer mentoring through MedNet. Members also distribute buttons they designed and produced celebrating humanism to incoming students at the White Coat Ceremony.