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5.12.2015

UM’s First Gold Humanism Inductees Honored for Their Compassion

An esteemed group of third-year University of Miami medical students became the first inductees into the Miller School of Medicine’s newly established chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The prestigious honor society is an arm of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and represents medical students, doctors and other medical professionals who exemplify humanistic clinical care and leadership. Selected by their peers, all 29 students accepted their certificates and pins at an intimate ceremony held at the University of Miami Hospital on April 30.

“This is a very special and important day,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “We are so honored to have you as part of the Miller School of Medicine. Thank you for being great, thank you for your compassion.”

Goldschmidt stressed that compassion is the cornerstone of UM’s core values and is part of the criteria for acceptance into medical school. “It’s not enough to have a 4.0 GPA and a 38 MCAT score to come to our medical school,” he said.

The Honor Society was established by Arnold P. Gold, M.D., his wife, Sandra Gold, Ed.D., and their colleagues at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Goldschmidt paid tribute to the Golds for their philanthropy and vision for encouraging compassion in the medical field.

Students were selected for the honor society by their peers based on criteria that included having good listening skills with their patients, exceptional interest in service to their communities, and qualities of a compassionate doctor who would be recommended to care for a loved one, and whether they would be a likely choice for a highly competitive residency program. Fellow students also suggested that the inductees were classmates they would want to have by their side during a medical emergency.

“It feels extra special when your peers recognize that something within you — that you want to be a compassionate physician and you want to practice patient-centered care,” said inductee Cheryl Clark. “You think of the patient and their entire life as important, not just what they are presenting with but what’s happening at home, what circumstances they’re having, their socio-economic status and their environment — a compassionate physician has to realize that all of these things come into play.”

Clark received her master’s degree in public health from UM and worked with Project Medishare in Haiti, which she said “teaches you how to deal with special populations.”

“You learn how to be incredibly compassionate and you have to get creative,” said Clark.

Starting the Miller School’s Gold Humanism honor society chapter took several years and was an effort led by Robert W. Irwin, M.D., Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, associate professor and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, and Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education.

“The idea is to bring the recognition of humanistic characteristics up to the level of academic performance in medicine and cultivate new doctors who will make it a common practice,” said Irwin. “This will have an impact on patients and the quality of health care they receive for generations to come.”

Membership in the honor society also gives medical school graduates impressive credentials that will help enhance their residency applications.

Barth A. Green, M.D., professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery and co-founder of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, served as guest speaker and stressed that doctors are privileged to be in a position of helping others. Green, who led the University’s massive response mission after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, made a presentation on the Miller School’s various global outreach operations such as Project Medishare and the Global Institute, which have brought much-needed medical support, including medicine and advanced technology, to people in developing countries.

“You’ve got a proud heritage,” Green told the inductees. “Being able to touch patients’ lives and transform their health care challenges into opportunities for future wellness and longevity is the definition of being a physician and is truly a privilege.”

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