The 2017 Gold Humanism Honor Society Induction

Who would you want working by your side in a medical emergency? Who best personifies the Francis Peabody quotation, “The secret of good patient care lies in caring for the patient”? On February 7, 2017, the 17 students in the Class of 2017 who were chosen by their peers in response to these questions were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). GHHS recognizes students and faculty for being models and exemplars for humanism in healthcare, inspiring those around them in their cultivation of a compassionate doctor-patient relationship.

The 2017 GHHS Inductees
The 2017 GHHS Inductees

Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, Dean for Medical Education, welcomed all inductees—as well as the friends and family who joined them from across the country—before welcoming Mindy Schwartz, MD, to speak. Dr. Schwartz has been the Pritzker School of Medicine chapter advisor for GHHS since the chapter was established 12 years ago as a program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to foster doctor-patient relationships based on respect and dignity. “Time with patients is so valuable,” she said. “The doctor-patient relationship is a transformative experience; you become a different person through those interactions.”

The awardees, speakers, and inductees that night were a testament to Dr. Schwartz’s words. First, Sean Gaffney, M.Ed, MS4, was honored as the Student Awardee of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards, given to those who exemplify excellence in patient care, respect for humanity, and deep compassion in their medical practice. In introducing Sean, Daniel Blech, MS4, described him as “someone you implicitly trust.” Through his live-in service at Su Casa Catholic Worker, a domestic violence shelter on the West Side, his volunteerism at CommunityHealth Clinic, and his work with Reach Out and Read and the Pritzker Community Service Fellowship, Sean has demonstrated a commitment to service and compassionate care that has been unparalleled throughout his time at Pritzker.

Nikki Orlov, MD’08, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Comer Children’s Hospital, was honored as the Leonard Tow Faculty Awardee and the Keynote Speaker of the GHHS Induction Ceremony. “I won the job lottery working here,” she said, explaining that taking care of sick children, supporting their families, and teaching high-caliber students was an honor to her. She then went on to tell two moving stories about patients, both with strong morals. Humanism is not about being perfect, she explained: it is about fostering a culture of improvement, so that tomorrow’s patients can receive better treatment that today’s. “The answer is always in the patient,” she explained. However, she cautioned that this level of caring can sometimes come at the expense of a doctor’s own well-being, and she encouraged our MS4s to forgive themselves for their future mistakes and celebrate their future successes.

After Dr. Orlov’s keynote and the induction of the GHHS members, H. Barrett Fromme, MD, MHPE, was honored with the 2016 AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award Nomination, which was submitted to the AAMC last summer. Though she did not win the national award, she was humbled by the nomination, saying, “The students at Pritzker make me want to be better and change the status quo.” Finally, Dr. Schwartz was recognized for her work as chapter advisor, and all attendees celebrated with a light reception at the Quadrangle Club.

We congratulate Sean, Dr. Orlov, Dr. Fromme, and all the students inducted into the GHHS on their remarkable achievements in compassionate patient care.