Definition of humanism

What is humanism?

At The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, we use the acronym I.E. C.A.R.E.S to provide a framework for humanism in healthcare: Integrity, Excellence, Compassion & Collaboration, Altruism, Respect & Resilience, Empathy, and Service.


Humanism in healthcare is characterized by a respectful and compassionate relationship between physicians, as well as all other members of the healthcare team, and their patients. It reflects attitudes and behaviors that are sensitive to the values and the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of others. The humanistic healthcare professional demonstrates the following attributes (“I.E., C.A.R.E.S.”):

  • Integrity: the congruence between expressed values and behavior
  • Excellence: clinical expertise
  • Collaboration & Compassion: the awareness and acknowledgement of the suffering of another and the desire to relieve it
  • Altruism: the capacity to put the needs and interests of another before your own
  • Respect & Resilience: the regard for the autonomy and values of another person
  • Empathy: the ability to put oneself in another’s situation, e.g., physician as patient
  • Service: the sharing of one’s talent, time and resources with those in need; giving beyond what is required.