“The secret of good patient care lies in caring for the patient,” goes the old Francis Peabody quotation. Compassion is a central tenet of practicing medicine, though it can be hard to maintain in a technology-driven practice, as Kenneth Polonsky, MD, Executive Vice President of the University for Biology and Medicine, noted at the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) Induction on February 6, 2018. However, Pritzker students have shown that despite the demands of the electronic medical record, the stress of a busy hospital service, and the rigors of a clinical learning environment, compassion is never optional. That February evening, 18 Pritzker students were inducted into GHHS, a national organization that 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. These students were chosen in a process that begins with a peer survey, further speaking to the impression they have made not only with our patients but within our community.
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—by introducing them as “change agents for the patients whom they are privileged to care for.” Dr. Humphrey then welcomed inductee Eric Whitney, MS4, to the stage to introduce Rachel Stones, MS4, the Student Awardee of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, given to those who exemplify excellence in patient care, respect for humanity, and deep compassion in their medical practice. In introducing Rachel, Eric praised her “singular character, commitment, and compassion,” noting that Rachel often went above and beyond her expectations in both caring for patients and caring for her classmates, going out of her way to make sure that everyone around her succeeded. Her commitment to service and compassionate care that has been unparalleled throughout his time at Pritzker.
Sonia Oyola, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Family medicine, was honored as the Leonard Tow Faculty Awardee and the Keynote Speaker of the GHHS Induction Ceremony. She began her talk by dedicating it to the memory of Arnold P. Gold, the founder of the Gold Foundation, who recently died this past January. “As we celebrate his unique life, we can all move his legacy forward with love,” she said. Dr. Oyola continued by connecting acts of compassion she had witnessed in her practice and her life to feelings of peace and contentment, noting that these acts buoyed her in turbulent times. She reminded students that acts of compassion happen all the time, and that all of us have the capacity to catch them while they are happening.
Dr. Oyola gave the keynote speech.
Ren Belcher, MS4, then introduced Michael Marcangelo, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, as the recipient of the 2017 Humanism in Medicine Nominee—a nomination he has received more than once. He has been a “caring and compassionate mentor in the teaching and advising of medical students,” explained Ren, and his work with students results in some of the highest rated clinical experiences.
Finally, the group honored Mindy Schwartz, MD, Professor of Medicine and the chapter advisor of our GHHS chapter for the past 13 years. Dr. Schwartz passed the role to Nicola Orlov, MD’08, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. In a wonderful turn of fate, Dr. Schwartz had written a letter of recommendation for Dr. Orlov years ago during her residency application process, and was able to recall text from that letter, speaking to the legacy of mentorship and compassion that passes from faculty to students throughout our medical center.
We congratulate Rachel, Dr. Oyola, Dr. Marcangelo, and all the students inducted into the GHHS on their remarkable achievements in compassionate patient care, and we send our deepest gratitude to Dr. Schwartz for her many years of leadership and service on behalf of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.