Humanism chapter receives reward for its golden touch
Published on Monday, May 11, 2020
By: Gary Pettus, email@example.com
A campus group celebrating those who embody kindness and compassion in patient care has made a national name for itself as role model in its own right.
The Gold Humanism Honor Society, Jeanette Pullen Chapter, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center has landed the highest “exemplary” rating from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which created the GHHS program.
Claiming more than 35,000 inductees nationwide, the GHHS applauds medical students, residents and faculty for their humanistic, generous treatment of patients, and for their service as role models, mentors and leaders in medicine.
In announcing the exemplary rating in a message to Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, leaders of the GHHS stressed the strength of the 15-year-old chapter’s events, activities and programs.
“I am very proud of our GHHS chapter,” said Woodward, noting the wisdom of organizers who named it after Dr. Jeanette Pullen, professor emeritus of pediatrics and former long-time director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology.
“Dr. Pullen advanced the care provided to children with cancer, nationally; she has lived the characteristics this organization holds most valuable,” Woodward said.
The message to Woodward, signed by Dr. Dorothy Levine, GHHS vice president, and Dr. Richard I. Levine, GHHS president and CEO, congratulated UMMC, the chapter’s students and its advisor, Dr. Lyssa Weatherly, assistant professor of medicine in geriatrics.
“I give the credit to the students,” said Weatherly, who was a Gold Humanism honoree in 2010 as a medical student at UMMC and later as a resident.
“They do all the work and are the ones doing the service. I really let them be the leaders. They have all the good ideas.”
Since its beginning in 2005, the Pullen chapter has worked to “perpetuate the tradition of the caring doctor” – the goal of the GHHS as stated by the founders of the New Jersey-based Arnold P. Gold Foundation, including the late Dr. Arnold Gold, a renowned pediatric neurologist, and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold.
While the Gold Awards are limited to medicine, the values they uphold reflect the aspirations of all learners, health professionals and employees at UMMC, Woodward said.
Previously advised by Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, now vice dean for medical education and professor of emergency medicine, the Pullen chapter has distinguished itself with such activities as Tap Day, where previous inductees each year track down each of the 20-plus third-year medical students chosen as initiates, awarding them gold, smiley-face balloons and golden bags of candy. That’s how students learn they’re in the GHHS.
Among those who deploy the forces of Tap Day – held this year on March 5 – is Ludivina “Lucy” Valera-Quintero, project manager II in the Office of Medical Education and GHHS chapter administrator.
“I couldn’t function without Lucy,” Weatherly said. “My favorite thing about Lucy is she loves this as much as I do.”
For her part, Valera-Quintero said she was “thrilled” with the exemplary rating. “Gold Humanism has grown a lot. You have to dedicate a lot of time to it,” she said. “But it’s the best part of my job.”
That job includes planning for the White Coat Ceremony, the end-of-summer ritual welcoming incoming students to the School of Medicine. There are also the Student Clinician Ceremony for rising third-year students; Wellness Day, a half-day retreat where students mingle with physicians and residents; and much more, including a time set aside to deliver some morale-lifting baked goods to exam-stressed first-year medical students.
“Each year, the new group has the opportunity to make its own mark,” said Dr. Emily McBride Youngblood of Ridgeland, outgoing chapter president and a Class of 2020 graduate headed for a pediatrics residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“They have taken on a tremendous responsibility for the chapter’s activities. In my opinion, what sets our chapter apart are the people in it.”
Each spring, the GHHS embraces new members on the strength of a survey taken by their fellow students, the directors of third-year clerkships and administrative support staff in the School of Medicine. The nominating students answer such questions as, “Which classmate would you like working at your side during a medical emergency?” and “Which classmate would you want as your doctor, or that of a loved one?”
Students aren’t the only ones deemed good as gold. Each year, selected by the chapter for the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, are a faculty member as well as a student who demonstrate clinical excellence and altruistic patient care.
The M3’s also vote for a half-dozen residents for the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards.
“These residents and faculty members care about teaching the students and about their future as physicians,” Valera-Quintero said. “They are doing what they love, and it shows. It’s a joy to be a part of this.”
As a resident, Dr. Savannah Duckworth is a multi-teaching honoree who was a medical student when the honor society first tapped her.
“I’ve said this before: I believe being a member of the Gold Humanism chapter is the highest honor for medical students,” said Duckworth, assistant professor of internal medicine.
“As students, we strive so hard to get good grades and to learn as much as we can to be good doctors, but there is that intangible part of medicine that is so hard to teach. But you know when students have that drive to do good for others.
“When you give students like that a project, they’re going to excel, especially with the leadership of Lyssa Weatherly.”
Woodward, who has known Weatherly since the latter was a medical student, described her as “absolutely the perfect person to be the faculty advisor. The traits valued by Gold Humanism are a prominent part of her makeup.”
Being able to demonstrate, and stick to, those ideals is why so many students say they want to go into medicine, Weatherly said. “So, it’s important to highlight the part of what we as doctors do that’s truly special and isn’t taught in the classroom.
“You can teach algorithms; you can teach disease processes, but it’s hard to teach somebody to be compassionate and empathetic. You can learn it by someone else’s example, though. And it’s special when you let the students be the exemplars.
“Sometimes, it’s just the kid who is a really good person, who cares about serving and is good at the kind of things that don’t always get recognition.”
The chapter’s crop of 21 newcomers was to get recognition in an induction ceremony on April 27 – a tradition postponed because of the social distancing burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the formal induction of new members will come later, tentatively at the end of September, Weatherly said.
Still, the students, along with the six outgoing chapter officers, did meet on the original induction date, but through videoconferencing.
“It was sad we couldn’t get together in person,” Weatherly said, “but it was still a gift to see each other this way, a sweet reminder.”
2020 Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards
Dr. Lucas Bryan Buchanan, internal medicine
Dr. James Craig Bullock, family medicine
Dr. Wade O’Connell Christopher, general surgery
Dr. John Caleb Grenn, internal medicine/pediatrics
Dr. Sara Diane Faulkner Porter, psychiatry
Dr. Jacob Morgan Stout, neurology
Dr. Terrence James Thompson, obstetrics & gynecology
2020 Leonard Tow Humanism Awards
Faculty: Dr. Virginia Austin Harrison, associate professor of pediatrics
Student (Class of 2020 graduate): Dr. Sean Himel
Gold Humanism Honor Society Inductees 2020-2021