2023 GHHS Northeast Regional Conference: Compassion and Emotional Competency in Today’s Medical Climate

Join fellow advocates of humanism in exploring the importance of compassion and emotional competency in today’s medical climate.

The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) Chapter of GHHS is hosting a conference for the Northeast region (NY, NJ, ME, CT, PA, VT, RI, NH, MA). The event is scheduled IN-PERSON Saturday, March 11, at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (4170 City Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19131). Gold Humanism Honor Society members and all supporters of humanism are invited.

Registration is now closed.

Speakers and breakout groups will be addressing such topics as compassionate care, wellness, mindfulness, imposter syndrome, and more. This event is supported by the Gold Foundation.


Saturday, March 11

  • 8:00 AM – Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00 AM – Introduction & Welcome by Louisa Tvito, MSW
  • 9:15 AM – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Saul J. Weiner – author of On Becoming a Healer
  • 10:00 AM – In Memoriam of Dwight – David D. Chen, MD, MPH
  • 11:00 AM – “Narrative Humility: Exploring Frameworks Through Which We Hear and Interpret Stories” – Colleen Christmas, MD, FACP; Matthew Kelly, PhD, MPH; Bessie Liu, MS2
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch (boxed lunch provided)
  • 1:00 PM – Humanism Centers: Tools and Competencies to Practice Compassionate Care throughout your Healthcare Career – Beth A. Pletcher, MD, FAAP, FACMG; Lawrence S. Weisberg, MD, FASN, MACP; Manasa Ayyala, MD; Ondrea McKay, MD; Rachel Fleishman, MD; Tanya Norment; Facilitator: Miriam E. Bar-on, MD
  • 2:00 PM – More Than a Clinician, More than a Patient: Humanizing the Hospital Experience with Tell Me More ® –
    Alice Fornari, EdD, FAMEE, RDN, HEC-C and Taranjeet Kalra Ahuja, DO, MSEd
  • 3:00 PM – Closing Remarks / Networking


9:15 a.m.
Keynote Speech by Dr. Saul J. Weiner

Session Title:  Gold Humanists: Why Swimming Against the Current Matters


Saul J. Weiner, MD
Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Education
University of Illinois at Chicago
Staff Physician, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
Deputy Director, VA Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare

Author of On Becoming a Healer: The Journey from Patient Care to Caring about Your Patients

Podcast co-host On Becoming a Healer

Course Description: 

Dr. Weiner, whose research team has collected and studied nearly 10,000 audio recordings of physician patient encounters, will describe how physicians are all too often inattentive to the life context of their patients because of a narrow task-focused approach to patient care. He’ll discuss how engaging with patients with a sense of shared humanity is essential for effective care and for experiencing joy in practice.

A summation of his book is below.

An invaluable guide to becoming a competent and compassionate physician.

Medical students and physicians-in-training embark on a long journey that, although steeped in scientific learning and technical skill building, includes little guidance on the emotional and interpersonal dimensions of becoming a healer. Written for anyone in the health care community who hopes to grow emotionally and cognitively in the way they interact with patients, On Becoming a Healer explains how to foster doctor-patient relationships that are mutually nourishing.

Dr. Saul J. Weiner, a physician-educator, argues that joy in medicine requires more than idealistic aspirations—it demands a capacity to see past the “otherness” that separates the well from the sick, the professional in a white coat from the disheveled patient in a hospital gown. Weiner scrutinizes the medical school indoctrination process and explains how it molds the physician’s mindset into that of a task completer rather than a thoughtful professional. Taking a personal approach, Weiner describes his own journey to becoming an internist and pediatrician while offering concrete advice on how to take stock of your current development as a physician, how to openly and fully engage with patients, and how to establish clear boundaries that help defuse emotionally charged situations.

Readers will learn how to counter judgmentalism, how to make medical decisions that take into account the whole patient, and how to incorporate the organizing principle of healing into their practice. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and discussion to help personalize the lessons for individual learners.

10:00 a.m.
In memoriam of Dwight


David D. Chen, MD, MPH

Dr. Chen is a hospitalist/pediatric hospitalist with Christiana Care Health System.

Course Description:

This session will be focused on a blog written by Dr. Chen. He will provide commentary on the importance of learning about the “social determinants of health” through the narratives of patients as authoritative and allowing that to transform how we see the world.

11:00 a.m.
Narrative Humility: Exploring Frameworks Through Which We Hear and Interpret Stories


Colleen Christmas, MD, FACP
Director, Primary Care Leadership Track
Associate Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Governor, Maryland Chapter American College of Physicians

Bessie Liu, MS2, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Matthew Kelly, PhD, MPH, Medical Student, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Course Description:

In this session, we will first describe frameworks for structuring story, both broadly and also within medicine. We then will explore how patient might conceive of their own stories, whether their stories do or do not fit into these structures, and the benefits and risks of interpreting them through these frameworks. We will also discuss the implications of this kind of narrative framing in the context of the therapeutic goals of patient care.

Learning Objectives:

To determine workshop participants’ perspectives on narrative medicine practice and the ways health care professionals conceptualize patient narratives.

1:00 p.m.
Humanism Centers: Tools and Competencies to Practice Compassionate Care throughout Your Healthcare Career


Manasa Ayyala, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine
Director, The Healthcare Foundation Center for Humanism and Medicine
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Beth A. Pletcher, MD, FAAP, FACMG 
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine (joint)
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Co-Director, The Neurofibromatosis Center of New Jersey
Faculty Co-Advisor, NJMS Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society

Tanya Norment
Program Administrator
The Healthcare Foundation Center for Humanism and Medicine
Gold Humanism Honor Society

Ondrea McKay, MD

Rachel Fleishman, MD
Rachel Fleishman is an attending neonatologist at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and Founder & Director of the Narrative Medicine Program for Einstein’s Urban Core

Lawrence S. Weisberg, MD, FASN, MACP
Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean for Professional Development
Associate Director, Center for Humanism
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Division of Nephrology
Cooper University Health Care
Camden, New Jersey


Miriam E. Bar-on, MD, Designated Institutional Officer
Assist. VP for GME and DIO
Einstein Healthcare Network

Course Description:

This session will host leaders from three Humanism Centers whose mission it is to promote a focus on patient centered care for the students, residents, and faculty members they educate. Each of these Humanism Centers strives to create tools and resources to allow for compassionate care throughout a healthcare career. This session will discuss the structure of each of the Humanism Centers and ways to integrate and harness tools in medical school, residency, and beyond.

2:00 p.m.
More Than A Clinician, More Than A Patient: Humanizing the Hospital Experience with Tell Me More ®


Alice Fornari, EdD, FAMEE, RDN, HEC-C
Professor, Science Education, Occupational Health, Family Medicine
Associate Dean, Educational Skills Development,
Zucker SOM at Hofstra/Northwell
Vice President, Faculty Development, Northwell Health
Co-Editor Mentoring in Health Professions Education: Evidence Based Strategies Across the Continuum
Program Director, MSEd Degree, Health Professions Education, Hofstra University, School of Health Professions and Human Services

Taranjeet Kalra Ahuja, DO, MSEd
Director, Humanism in Medicine and Communications Co-Leader
Assistant Professor of Science Education
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Learning Objectives:

1) Discuss the significance of connection to understand the patient as a person beyond their illness.

2) Use the Tell Me More® program to bridge the gap between the clinician-patient relationship.

3) Discuss how this information gathered from the patient elevates the patient voice and impacts the clinical care team.

4) Demonstrate and practice a Tell Me More® encounter.

3:00 p.m.
Closing Remarks / Networking

The event is free to attend. Parking, coffee, and lunch will be included.

Parking Directions: Monument parking lot – address: Monument Rd & Stout Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Conference Location: PCOM Evan’s Hall – Ginsberg Auditorium. Dinning will be in the Mezzanine.
4170 City Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Happy Hour Information:

Date: March 10th
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Name of Venue:  Wissahickon Brewing Company
Address: 3705 W. School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19129


Registration is now closed.