UH Med Now
JABSOM Gold Humanism Honor Society Earns Exemplary Ranking
As the school year winds down, GHHS students launch the JABSOM Aloha-19 Project.
By Paula Bender JABSOM News Staff
A pandemic brings with it unbearable sadness, but it can also bring out the best in people. At the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) the circumstances of COVID-19 has brought out the best in its MD 2020 and MD 2021 classes. The medical students realized that the MD 2019 graduates, now hospital interns, are on the frontlines of the virus.
The involved students from MD classes of 2020 and 2021 are also part of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). They are selected because of their natural alignment with the vision of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation: “Healthcare will be dramatically improved by placing human interests, values, and dignity at the core of teaching and practice.” The Foundation founded GHHS in 2002 and now has 160 chapters at medical schools across the United States. After three years of medical school, some students are chosen to spend their senior year as a GHHS member, such as Shelly Wong, MD Class of 2021.
“I was so saddened by the COVID-19 situation and specifically thinking of the Class of 2019 and how this must make their intern year – an already difficult year – exponentially more stressful,” Wong said. “With the quarantine and stay-at-home orders, I heard some of them were unable to come home for their scheduled vacations, something I’m sure they were looking forward to all year. If I were in their shoes, I’d be pretty burnt-out – physically, emotionally, and mentally.
With that in mind, Wong said, “It would be nice for the JABSOM ‘ohana to send MD 2019 interns something special from home to boost morale and let them know we are thinking of them, thankful for their service, and so, so proud and in awe of them!”
And that’s how the JABSOM-19 Aloha Project got started.
This week 62 care packages were assembled for the MD 2019 doctors who are interning through the pandemic. Wong, inspired GHHS members to take action. Support came from the University of Hawaii Foundation; and the Friends of the Medical School and the Alumni Association paid the fees to ship the packages. One is going as far as New York City.
Support such as this is a component of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, “…to nurture and preserve the tradition of the caring physician.” The Gold Foundation established the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) in 2002.
The society consists of individuals who model the humanistic qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service (e.g. “i.e. cares”). GHHS recognizes the practice of patient-centered medical care. This nurturing begins in medical schools across the country, and there are 160 chapters of GHHS so far, including at JABSOM. The society is committed to a criteria that exemplifies the humanity that should exist between physician and patient.
“For me, GHHS is really about the students and the attributes that they model,” GHHS Advisor Dr. Damon Lee said. “We hope that all graduates of JABSOM provide humanistic care to their patients, but GHHS students are those who really take what this means to heart and embody humanism in all aspects of everything they do.”
On Friday, May 1, 2020, Wong and other JABSOM MD 2021 students were indoctrinated into the GHHS as the graduating MD 2020 students pass the gavel. The Gold Foundation acknowledges that COVID-19 has challenged medical students everywhere with fear, uncertainty, and disruption. Despite such challenges, JABSOM’s GHHS members have been awarded an “Exemplary” ranking this year.
The ranking was based on a questionnaire sent to the 160 GHHS chapter advisors who were asked to identify events, activities, and programs designed or conducted at least in part by their GHHS medical students. The criteria included:
Outgoing President Kayla Murata and Incoming President Lucia Amore found ways to support the initiative.
“We’ve all been working to make this project happen,” Amore said. “We’re lucky in that we have a solid JABSOM ‘Ohana behind us. Our GHHS Chapter advisor, Dr. Lee, has been supportive in helping us figure out the logistics of assembling these care packages in socially distant compliant ways.”
The honor society will be sending ‘aloha’ to 62 interns – almost the entire class. This includes cards and/or care packages. Wong said.
The MD Class of 2019 were polled by the GHHS members and those who were interested were matched up with a volunteer who would help put together their care package.
“We are sending them to all 2019 MDs who signed up to receive one,” Wong said.
The feedback from some of the MD 2019 class was that of gratitude:
From Dr. Laura (Kurata) Ling: “Thank you guys so much for doing this! [My husband [MD 2019]] Carlthan is on the special COVID team at his hospital (and will be in the ICU next) and I’ve been working in the ICU which is almost exclusively ventilated COVID patients. Any encouragement would be much appreciated. Please keep the patients and their families in your thoughts and prayers, too. It has been so difficult to have patients and their loved ones separated from each other. It’s heartbreaking. Super proud to be part of the JABSOM Ohana!”
From Dr. Casey Young: “Aloha from New York. Our city has been devastated by COVID. All the warmth and thoughts from afar really do help us stay strong.”
Nearing the end of her senior year and as JABSOM GHHS President, Kayla Murata said, “I am continually amazed at the selfless compassion of my peers who are always willing to volunteer and serve others.
“I am thankful to be surrounded by enthusiastic faculty and staff who welcome student ideas. We appreciate all of the JABSOM students, faculty, staff, donors, and community members who have supported the JABSOM-19 Aloha Project. Together we are making our community a healthier and happier place, even in the face of adversity and uncertainty.”
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation infuses the human connection into healthcare. It engages schools, health systems, companies, and individual clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic healthcare, so that they have the strength and knowledge to ensure patients and families are partners in collaborative, compassionate, and scientifically excellent care.
Follow this link to learn about the selection process for potential GHHS members.