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VUSM debuts new Gold Humanism Honor Society

Mar. 10, 2016, 9:10 AM

School of Medicine students and faculty pose for a photo at last week’s first meeting of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) last week inducted 19 students into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), the school’s newest organization, which is dedicated to sustaining, inspiring and nurturing humanism in medicine.

Started in 2002, GHHS brings together like-minded individuals to sustain their own humanism as well as inspire humanism in others. There are more than 120 chapters with more than 20,000 members in the United States.

The society is a program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1988 to work with health care professionals in training and in practice to instill a culture of respect, dignity and compassion for patients and medical professionals.

Fourth-year VUSM student Kelly Wolenberg, co-founder of the Vanderbilt society, likens the new group to AOA, another honor society that focuses on academic achievement.

“We are not just an honor society,” said Wolenberg. “We are a community focused on humanistic clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service. We recognize medical students, residents and attendings who also promote and exemplify humanistic values in their character and behavior.”

The peer-nominated group of medical students is involved in various projects including Solidarity Day, a national event held in February promoting the provider/patient relationship based on caring, personalization and mutual respect. The Vanderbilt chapter spent the day at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with the “Tell Me More” event, where GHHS participants spent time learning about patients’ personal lives and made signs with the information to hang in the patients’ rooms.

Another project the group has worked with is the Bedside Matters initiative, an hourlong, monthly rounds geared toward helping Vanderbilt University Medical Center health care providers deal with the social and emotional issues of caring for patients and families.

“GHHS reminds Vanderbilt physicians and trainees that medicine is an art was well as a science,” said Wolenberg. “Both health care providers and patients are human beings before taking on their respective roles in the hospital or clinic. This society works to remind us all of that.”

The 19 student inductees include: Ishan Asokan, co-founder; Monica Bhutiani; Joseph Boyle; Benjamin Dean; Brian Grieb; Benjamin Hooe; Ashlee Huff; Rivka Ihejirika; Kelli Jarrell; Vanessa Kennedy; Robert Lentz; Alec Petersen; Lucy Unger; Cameron Upchurch; Mary Van Meter; Leonela Villegas; Kelly Wolenberg; Aaron Yengo-Kahn and Brittany Tielbur.

The Vanderbilt chapter is led by four advisers, who were also inducted as GHHS members: Amy Fleming, M.D., associate dean of Medical Student Affairs; Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean of Health Sciences Education; Bill Cutrer, M.D., M.Ed., director of Learning Communities and Curriculum 2.0 Immersion Phase co-director, and Keith Meador, M.D., director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society and associate dean of Student Health and Wellness.

“We are very proud to launch this chapter of GHHS at Vanderbilt,” Miller said. “This fortifies the great value we place on compassionate and person-centered health care. It’s wonderful to be able to demonstrate this value by recognizing the members of our community who best exemplify a humane, humanistic and scholarly approach to their craft.”

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