Release Date: July 3, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is one of just ten institutions nationwide chosen by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to create a pilot chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society for medical residents and fellows.
With the tagline, "Keeping the Care in Healthcare," the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) promotes humanism in medicine at medical schools throughout the U.S. Established in 2005, UB's Richard Sarkin/Emeritus Faculty chapter recognizes UB medical students and faculty members every year who have dedicated themselves to practicing medicine humanistically, that is, with effective communication, empathy and compassion for their patients.
"We have such wonderful, humanistic physicians in Buffalo," says Daniel Sheehan, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric pulmonologist at Women and Childrens Hospital of Buffalo. "This new resident/fellow chapter is a way of bringing these physicians together to support and infuse humanism across all levels of medical training and into all training hospitals in Buffalo."
Sheehan notes that of all the different levels in a physician's career, residency and fellowship, which typically last three to seven years, are among the most stressful.
"During residency and fellowship, humanism is not always formally on the table," says Sheehan. "It's an incredibly intense period of training during which these trainees may have 80-hour work weeks, mostly in patient care. It's often the first time that they feel the full responsibility and stress of practicing medicine with great potential for burnout.
"Our mission will be to infuse, foster and support humanism at all levels of medical training, preventing the attrition of humanism that can occur in residency and fellowship," Sheehan adds.
Each year, the new chapter will select and induct 30 residents/fellows from the almost 800 who are training at UB. The new inductees will be selected for their commitment to providing excellent care with kindness and compassion and for their dedication to serving patients and their families.
The nomination process will begin before year's end. The first round of UB resident/fellow GHHS inductees will be announced next spring.
One goal will be to develop a network of compassionate care providers -- residents, fellows and faculty members -- who can support residents and fellows as they go through their training. GHHS-inducted residents and fellows will be able to apply for small grants for projects to foster humanism in their training programs and hospitals.
A UB Graduate Medical Education web site on humanism in medical education also is under development and will provide a database of UB speakers on humanism and links to local and national humanism grant opportunities and other humanism sites on the Web. Workshops for residents and fellows on humanism topics, such as wellness and mindfulness in medicine also are in development.
"We're hoping these efforts will help residents serve as role models who can support their peers and medical students and help keep care and compassion in the culture as they go through their training," says Sheehan. "That's the heart of medicine."
Sheehan and Colleen Nugent, MD, UB pediatric gastroenterology fellow, will serve as the chapter's co-advisors. They will be supported by UB faculty and emeritus faculty, including Leonard A. Katz, MD, professor emeritus, Gregory Cherr, MD, associate professor of surgery; Diana G. Wilkins, MD, assistant director of residency education in the Department of Family Medicine; Susan Orrange, M.Ed, graduate medical education director of education and resident services and Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean of graduate medical education. David Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs and Sergio Hernandez, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, co-advisors of the UB Gold Humanism Honor Society Student Chapter, also will be involved.