A snowy February night did not deter the crowd that gathered at Bond Chapel for the 2019 Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) induction ceremony. A national organization that “recognizes students, residents and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine,” the Gold Foundation is unique in that GHHS students are nominated by their peers based on their empathic patient care, their capacity as role models, and their support of fellow students. Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Executive Vice President of the University for Biology and Medicine, told attendees that the GHHS induction ceremony reminds us that medicine is not just a science but an art, as our current group of students show.
The 2019 Gold Humanism Honor Society students
Halina Brukner, MD, welcomed attendees—which included fellow students, honoree’s families, faculty, and staff—and encouraged them to celebrate the warmth of the doctor-patient relationship. One student and one faculty member were chosen specifically based on their exceptional skills in this area, each earning a Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. Emily Foltz, MS4, introduced Sarah Peters, MS4, the 2019 Leonard Tow student awardee as “a unique light in our class,” someone with a positive attitude and a dedication to patients. Riley Brian, MS4, introduced the 2019 Leonard Tow faculty awardee, H. Barrett Fromme, MD, MHPE; he said that “Dr. Fromme means more to any of us than her numerous awards suggest,” detailing how her practice of greeting her pediatric patients by asking how school was and the names of their best friends was but one small way that she brought compassion to every patient visit and inspired medical students.
Dr. Fromme began her keynote address with her characteristic sense of humor, joking that humanism was such a soft concept to her that her husband thought she was winning a “humanitarian” award. In reality, she detailed, she learned about humanism from Norton Juster’s 1961 children’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth. Among the lessons she learned from the book, which she wanted to pass along to the students in attendance, were:
- Be good at what you do, and be who you say you are—have integrity;
- Be realistic and clear with your expectations;
- Be invested and engaged in your patients and their care;
- Build a team of collaborators and respect what other people bring to the table;
- Allow for your perspectives to change over time;
- Do not jump to conclusions;
- Do not let the tasks of medicine distract you from the purpose of medicine; and
- Learn from your mistakes.
After Dr. Fromme’s speech, 13 students were inducted into GHHS, while chapter advisor Nicola Orlov, MD’08, MPH read testimonies that faculty had written about those students’ times on the wards. Dr. Orlov herself received recognition as the 2018 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award Nominee, an honor that her introducer Matthew Present, MS4, attributed to her “unwavering support and full candy bowl.” In entirety, the evening was a celebration of humanity and compassion in the art of healing.