The Gold Connection: A Gold Humanism Honor Society Podcast
In Episode 6, we officially launch our new, multi-year Gold Humanism Honor Society International Initiative, “Healing the Heart of Healthcare: Reimagining how we listen, connect, and collaborate.”
“Healing the Heart of Healthcare” builds on the previous, 2020-2021 GHHS initiative, “Humanism & Healing: Structural Racism & Its Impact on Medicine.” From that grew so many GHHS chapter projects, an anti-racism library, training tools, and much more – as well as an entire virtual conference in May 2021.
The “Healing the Heart of Healthcare” continues this work, prompting GHHS chapters, as well as GHHS members who have graduated and are now in practice or other roles, to consider how they could help further this mission within their own corner of the world. It is rooted in our growing understanding of the impact that the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have had on our psyche, our connections, and healthcare at large.
Podcast host Dr. Hellen Ransom opens this episode, which features a conversation among four GHHS leaders around the work of the new “Healing the Heart of Healthcare” GHHS International Initiative:
Dr. Colleen Christmas
Dr. Colleen Christmas is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where she teaches, advises students, and sees patients in her primary care practice. She has been involved with the GHHS since 2013 as an active member of the Programs Committee and has served as Chair of that committee since 2019.
Elizabeth Asantewah Mensah (“Liz”)
Elizabeth Asantewah Mensah (“Liz”) is a current fourth-year medical student at Emory University School of Medicine. As her chapter’s GHHS president, she organized a symposium titled ” A Calculated Risk: Engaging Black Patients on the Coronavirus Vaccine,” which challenged the narrative of vaccine hesitancy and centered vaccine access as the main barrier to vaccine uptake in disadvantaged communities. Acknowledging the underpinnings of systemic racism in the dual pandemics, she went on to moderate a discussion titled “The Importance of ‘Sankofa’ in the Anti-Racism Effort” at the 2021 Humanism & Healing Conference, hosted by GHHS. An aspiring psychiatrist, Liz loves documentary film, cooking Caribbean and West African cuisine, and spending time with her niece and nephew.
Dr. Linda Stone
Dr. Linda Stone is a wife, mother, grandmother, retired family physician, medical educator and retired Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. She currently serves as Special Assistant to the Dean for Humanism and Professionalism. Dr. Stone is a GHHS member and Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award honoree. She led the team that established the GHHS chapter at OSU in 2004 and the GHHS resident chapter in 2014 at OSU. Dr. Stone also founded the OSU College of Medicine Humanism in Medicine program. In 2019, the Ohio State University College of Medicine named it the Linda C. Stone, MD, Program for Humanism and the Arts in Medicine. She is Chair of the Chapter Advisor Support Subcommittee.
Louisa Tvito is the Director of Program Initiatives and of the Gold Humanism Honor Society at The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Louisa received her Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University, practicing clinically with dementia patients during the early part of her career. Since 2016, Louisa has been deeply involved in developing and launching the programming of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
2020-2021 GHHS Initiative, Humanism & Healing
2021 Humanism & Healing Conference, hosted by GHHS
Voices in Humanism Project at the Ohio State University
Gold Human InSight Webinar: Voices in Humanism with OSU and Dr. Linda Stone
Vanqui opera, produced by Opera Columbus
GHHS members are encouraged to reach out to GHHS Director Louisa Tvito at any time to share their projects, brainstorm ideas, and get connected to other chapters and members with similar or complementary work underway. Louisa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music by Luca Fraula, “Follow that dream”
Host and audio editor: Dr. Hellen Ransom
Producers: Louisa Tvito and Brianne Alcala
Transcript proofing: Isabella Kovacs
Website support: Jill Levenhagen
Dr. Hellen Ransom
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Gold Connection, where we share stories of humanism in healthcare as well as tools and lessons for students, clinicians, and leaders. The Gold Connection is produced by the Gold Humanism Honor Society, a program of The Arnold P. Gold foundation. My name is Hellen and I’m your host. I am really excited for today’s conversation, which officially launches our new Gold Humanism Honor Society International Initiative: “Healing the Heart of Healthcare: Reimagining how we listen, connect and collaborate.”
“Healing the Heart of Healthcare” builds on the previous GHHS Initiative, which focused on sparking conversation and action to address structural racism in medicine. From that grew so many GHHS chapter projects, anti-racism library, training tools and much more, as well as an entire virtual conference in May 2021. The Healing the Heart of Healthcare International Initiative is designed to be a continuing thread of this work over multiple years. It is rooted in our growing understanding of the impact that the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have had on our psyche, our connections and healthcare at large.
There is any immense need to speak up about all that has been broken and importantly to encourage GHHS members and colleagues to be innovative and empowered in creating a healthcare system that reflects the values that led them into this field. In this episode, we will hear from four leaders in GHHS as they share advice and insights on past projects and ideas for the work ahead. Their longer bios are available in the show notes.
We are pleased to have with us today:
- Dr. Colleen Christmas, Associate Professor at John Hopkins, a member of the GHHS Advisory Council and chair of the GHHS Program Committee.
Dr. Linda Stone, a GHHS member, former GHHS Chapter Advisor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and currently special assistant to the Dean of Humanism and Professionalism, as well as chair of the Chapter Advisor Support Subcommittee.
- Elizabeth Mensa, a fourth-year medical student at Emory and former GHHS Chapter President.
- And to kick this conversation off, Director of GHHS and Program Initiatives Louisa Tvito.
And here’s Louisa, beginning this important discussion with a question to Dr. Colleen Christmas.
So, Colleen, I’m really excited to hear from you. You have been the fearless leader of the Program Committee for the Gold Humanism Honor Society for a couple of years now, kind of leading us through the trenches of last year’s initiative and really thinking through all of the details thoughtfully about how to make this initiative an extension of what we’ve already started in our commitment to furthering the mission of the Gold Foundation. And so I’d love to hear from you about what went into this process. What was the conversation like at the Program Committee level and where you envision this program initiative going?
Dr. Colleen Christmas
Thanks, Louisa. I couldn’t be more proud of the Program Committee. There’s about a dozen of us who have worked really hard in putting together these initiatives and thought very carefully about what we hope the impact of the initiatives will be.
Last year, the National Initiative was “Humanism and Healing: Structural Racism and its Impact on Medicine.” And that was really a reflection of the trauma we were all facing together as a community, the dual pandemics of racism and the COVID-19 infection. And the hope, then, was that leaders in the GHHS would use their position to create space, to talk about what we’re seeing, what we’re going through together, that sort of shared trauma and think about how we can engage in discussions within healthcare and within our communities to try and start the healing process.
That was a wonderful initiative, great programs, doing a lot of really wonderful things. The national meeting was fantastic, and our program committee really wanted to take what started from that and use that energy to build in concrete steps that we’re going to create really a roadmap for how do we improve? How do we make the GHHS, how do we make medicine, how do we make our corners of the world better? While last year’s initiative focused on creating space, as the dual pandemics continue to drudge on much longer than we expected, we realize that there’s just a lot of suffering that needs to be addressed. There’s the students, the residents, the faculty, the patients, the community members, the staff that are in the hospitals or in the offices, nurses and so forth.
And it’s not a U.S. problem. It’s an international problem. We really wanted to create something that helped us rediscover why we went into medicine in the first place — to get back in touch with that. And we thought about how we hold space, to honor our grief, to lift each other up and to grow to be better together.
This initiative, we hope, it’s going to promote the creation of a roadmap to healing and growing. And it’s a plan to empower us to make brave changes in healthcare. We know that laying out these plans, even planning to do anything is a massive undertaking. And so unlike prior initiatives, this international initiative is going to be a multi-year project, a two-year project. And the theme we came up with builds on last year’s themes perfectly. So: “Healing the Heart of Healthcare: Reimagining how we listen, connect and collaborate.”
Thank you so much, Colleen. One of the things that you mentioned is the folks that are on the Program Committee, and I think it’s important to note that they’re volunteers, and they really represent a broad spectrum of representation in health care. So: medical students, residents, practicing physicians, folks that are retired. And I think that all of the individuals on the Program Committee voice this need for connection and community and understanding what this role is in building, building back and trying to be better in healthcare and do our jobs better and rely on each other better.
And so I really hope that, one of my ambitions for this initiative, is that we can rely on community and interact with each other. Last year, one of the things we did really well was connecting chapters across the nation. And I want to think about how to do that internationally and continue to do it nationally really well.
If there’s something you’re excited about as a chapter, who else is doing it? How can we make this more robust? What are some of the ideals that we want to really work through together to make sure that they’re surfacing? So I appreciate you talking about connection and especially our international presence. We have chapters internationally. and there was a wonderful, they were at our international conference, they shared their art, their learning. And so we’re all sort of in this in this together.
Linda, I would love to hear from you about how you envision chapters getting involved, and you’ve really created an incredibly lively culture of humanism at your institution at the Ohio State.
And so I’d love to hear from you about what they are currently doing in other ways for chapters to get involved.
Dr. Linda Stone
Thanks, Louisa. First of all, Colleen, you did a wonderful job of explaining where we’ve been and where we want to go. And that fits right in with the chapters, because interestingly enough, we have, with the new committees, we have Chapter Advisor, Chapter Support Committee with a wonderful team, just like you’ve got on the Program Committee. And through them, we know that every single chapter has something special they do — something they highlight, something they’re proud of. It might be something in the arts, it might be something in service, but just a wonderful amount of programs all the way across the country.
So what we’re asking is look at what you have in your chapter, look around and see what might apply to this “Healing the Heart of Humanism: Reimagining how we listen, connect, collaborate.” Now this is mind-blowing, because I think what you’re going to do when you read that title of what our going-forward work is about, you’re going to say, “Oh, my gosh, we’ve got this. We’ve got that.” And then what’s going to happen, I think, is the magic will begin because you’re going to start thinking, “how I’m going to expand that,” that it will lead you in so many directions.
And so I’m going to give an example of what happened to us during this last year at Ohio State when we were looking at, “Oh, we love our programs, but so many, many of them are in person. How do we reach people in new ways — maybe building on the old ways — but in new ways?” And one thing we started was a thing called Voices in Humanism. And it was a collaboration between the Medical Heritage Center at Ohio State and our GHHS resident chapter. The residents were looking at, how can we keep connected during this very difficult time when you’ve just gone through your third COVID ICU rotation as a resident or a fellow or a student, you’re a faculty member trying so hard to teach and just trying to keep up, getting enough sleep and enough to eat.
How can we reach the residents in a very kind and gentle way? And so the residents began to design different things — cookies that might just appear in their mailbox, or something in the resident lounge that might be cocoa or whatever. But they wanted to say, “We love you. We’re thinking about you. We know you have no time to get together.” They started a wellness newsletter, but they also collaborated with us and Voices in Humanism, which was collecting, archiving in the Medical Heritage Center, and then sharing artwork created by the Medical Center family, the community around us.
So it might be a poem, it might be a photograph, a painting. And then we began to share with different groups. So on Monday morning, your group might send out to you a piece of artwork — doesn’t take much longer to look and see, “Oh, what a beautiful painting or a little poem.” Or even one of our medical student moms created a thing called the Whimsical World of Wilber, where the dog comes and visit you, whether it’s Thanksgiving or whatever’s going on, Wilber’s there to say hello.
And what happened was that very simple idea began to grow. So now we have well over 70 artists, and we distribute to groups like the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, a number of groups within the Medical Center. And they get a work of art each week. But those collaborations also led us to discover more in our community of people trying to do the very same thing. So when we mentioned about community and you mentioned retirees, well, the retirees, our Emeritus Association receives an artwork each Monday, and that keeps them connected because they can’t get together.
And the collaborations also led us to a wonderful woman, Dr. Jennifer Garvin, who’s a PhD, and she had the idea of taking an opera that had been performed by Opera Columbus and using it as a teaching tool. And we actually open tomorrow in Vanqui, which is an opera-based course on racism to humanism. And how do we take this pre-Civil War story and help us understand where our biases, our prejudice came from and then began to rewrite our own story? There was a poster on it in our national conference, which was so cool.
So much is happening. This is happening with you. All you have to do, if it isn’t already happening, look around. Ask your students. Ask your residents. Ask your faculty. Look at who you can collaborate within the community. This is a golden opportunity for us to do exactly what we’ve said: “Healing the Heart of Healthcare.”
Linda, it’s so beautiful. And I love the opera, because I love that it’s an actionable item. It’s something that came out of what was so needed. And that is really the intention here, is getting to, understanding what the needs are and saying, “This is a project that we want to get behind. We want to work with our community, we want to understand the needs and give something that can live on and really put what we’re saying to into movement.” So I’m always inspired by your work and really look forward to sharing some of that art that you spoke of with our other members.
And so thank you for your incredible leadership and always willing to come to the place I really wanted to share.
Dr. Linda Stone
You inspire us, so thank you.
Oh, please, it’s all a team work, and we’re all in this together. As Colleen said, just create a roadmap for change. So I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Liz, your work last year, your commitment to this initiative and the conference were truly stellar. I don’t know what we would have done without you. Can you talk a little bit about how you need all of that come to fruition and what your perspective is as a student leader to make sure these things are successful?
Sure. And thank you so much for inviting me to this conversation. I think we found ourselves in a particular moment in history where this was really on everybody’s mind, in the center of everyone’s mind. And so in terms of driving engagement around our events and the things that we did as a chapter, I will say that I didn’t have to pull teeth to get people to want to join us in this effort. For example, our main event in March of last year was an event entitled, “A Calculated Risk Engaging Black Patients on the Coronavirus Vaccine,” where we engaged about over 80 residents and students and physicians on the topic of vaccine hesitancy, where we shifted the conversation from hesitancy to vaccine access and really focused on structural racism and that structural racism that was the underpinnings of what we were really seeing as a nation in terms of the disproportionately lower adherence of vaccines in underserved populations.
Dr. Marietta Collins and Dr. Sheryl Heron were very excited and enthusiastic about their participation. The members of GHHS at my chapter were very enthusiastic about joining that effort, and it was really a team effort and really felt good to accomplish something together like that where we were all on the same page about how important this work was.
In terms of momentum for the next group, I really do think that it’s about empowering them. Really, we make sure that everything that we did was well documented and that we passed on that information to them so that they would be well positioned to engage the resources that we have here at Emery to do what they’ve been envisioned as important in their chapter. But really, we really emphasize that this is their year and that they can envision and execute initiatives that as they see fit. And I think that’s the key to really producing genuine initiatives.
Thank you so much. And it’s a great point because I attended the conference that you had at your institution. And together we worked to say, “Let’s make this more robust so that we could do at the conference level.” And I think that that’s a perfect example of us leaning on each other, being invested in one another, and really working together to make these things happen. So I just was so excited to see the type of student leader that you became and that you were and that it’s really an inspiration to myself and to other leaders. So thank you for that.
Thank you so much for your support.
And then can you tell me a little bit about how you had to lean on your chapter advisors? Was this largely student-driven, this initiative, this work, or was it facilitated at all by your chapter advisors?
So we have the privilege of having Dr. Maura George and Dr. Donald Batisky as our chapter advisors. And they are excellent at lending support to us for any initiatives that we envision. And we checked in with them periodically throughout the year to make sure that we were basically leaning on their expertise and gaining as much as we could from their engagement, what they did for us, which was really powerful as they allowed us to steer the boat. And we really kind of took the reins.
And again, we as a group, we’re very cohesive together. We gelled really well as a leadership team. And so it was easy to kind of steer the boat in one direction. But I think that was a very powerful combination for us, the fact that we were highly motivated as a group and that we had advisors who would allow us that freedom and then also advise and guide us as we went along. We’re very thankful for them.
That’s so incredibly helpful. And I think that Dr. Stone, you have a similar approach with your students. And I know that your chapter advisor of the residents right now, but can you talk to me a little bit, Dr. Stone, about how a chapter can create enduring work work that they can stand behind, that the advisors can help to make sure that the work doesn’t just end after they graduate.
Dr. Linda Stone
Liz, you made excellent points. Our students do the very thing. They take a lot of notes, and then it’s on a Google Drive or one of those things magically that they create that I have no idea. I just go in and look so they make sure everything is fed into that.
But, well, I just got an email last night from a student who’s going to do the VA initiative this year, and she said, “Could you talk me through it?” So advisors fill roles because we have the organizational memory, but also we’re the ones to encourage, “All right, if this program really matches what you’d love to do, great. But if you want to switch it up or do something different.”
It’s interesting when you talk about your advisors, because Dr. Batisky not only started your chapter there, he and I started our chapter at OSU. So he has a long history of this, and that’s what advisors, that’s the great part of advisors. We remember a lot and whatever we don’t remember it’s on our computer.
So I think that’s our role: We’re cheerleaders. We encourage. We say, there isn’t anything like a mistake. You just try something! If it works really well, it doesn’t quite work, as well, you learn from it and we move on.
So we really like, like our GHHS — I mean, when you think of who comes into the GHHS, it’s these people, this huge, wonderful hearts, and they’re loving and caring and compassionate. How could we not be successful? So all advisors do is help pull that out and say, “You’re amazing. Let’s see what you’re going to do.”
I love that. And I think that so much of what we’re saying is leaning on each other. And I’ve spoken a little bit about community and connection, but I think it’s important that our student leaders lean on each other and use the listserv to say, “This is what we’re doing. Can you connect us, and let’s do this together?” Or chapter advisors to say, “I’m really struggling to get this to happen.” Or, “Can you tell me, structurally, how you did this?” And that’s a huge component of the resources that we have here to be able to create a real family here, to make sure that these things come to fruition, like you said.
The other thing I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Christmas is how to continue to stay involved. So if our members, after they graduate medical school, they’re in residency, they want to participate in creating programming: Can you talk a little bit about their involvement or ability to get involved in Program Committee or other committees and really lend their expertise to the ongoing mission?
Dr. Colleen Christmas
Oh, my heavens, yes. We would love, love, love to have any residents, faculty, you name it, join our Program Committee. I think that’s part of what has made our Program Committee so incredibly effective, in my opinion, is that we have a diversity of voices. So people bring a range of perspectives to whatever challenge we’re facing. And together, we kind of wrestle through, talk through. And I think what comes out of the Program Committee is really quite beautiful, honestly, in large part because of this diversity of voices.
So absolutely, anyone who wants to volunteer to serve on the Program Committee, we would welcome them. Residents, we realize you’re busy. You may not be able to make every meeting. We can work with that. Retired faculty? Absolutely. Please your wisdom. We need it. There is something every single person could bring to that committee, and we would welcome it with open arms.
Thank you. And you know, one of the things that we heard a lot of in the thick of the first wave of the pandemic was, wishing that there’s more of an opportunity to lean on like-minded folks that were struggling here. Our heads are underwater. Who can we turn to? And this is an opportunity, even if it’s just for the first 15 minutes of the meeting, to see faces that are familiar, or to talk with people that are still holding on to any inkling of that joy or something that is kind of stretched, they’re struggling to attain in their life, and they can find it by leaning on each other.
And so, there are so many different committees that you can lend your expertise. Linda, do you want to speak to the committee that you chair and ways to get involved there?
Dr. Linda Stone
I echo Colleen because if people want to join us, we’re adding a couple people this next time. But we’re a fairly small committee [the GHHS Chapter Advisor Support Subcommittee], and so we would love to add people. And I think you’ve given us a lot of ideas, as far as looking forward to the national conference with our theme this year, and how we might better connect with our chapter advisors. And as you know, we’re adding a medical student, we hope to add a resident, just added another faculty member. So I think if someone’s interested in being on the Chapter Advisor, Chapter Support [committees], absolutely, we want them. I don’t want to steal from you, Colleen. Liz, that’s you, too.
That’s right. And important that once the work is done here, as far as your role in the international initiative, and you move into residency, to update your information in the database, to stay connected with us, to join a committee, because it doesn’t stop here. And the level of expertise and knowledge just sort of morphs and changes and grows, and it only helps us to further the mission. So, you know, there’s so much to to think about and to talk about while we have this opportunity to connect to our members about this initiative.
And one of the things that I want to talk about is funding. GHHS offers small grants to our members to help push along the work that they’re doing in the community as far as their activism, etcetera. So if there’s any interest in taking us up on that funding, there’s a grant application online, or you can email me directly. I’ll make sure that my email is in the notes for the podcast and that, you know, to recognize that our GHHS members are do-ers. I have never been so inspired by the initiative and the creativity and really the ingenuity and owning a problem and saying, “We recognize our role in humanism in healthcare, and how to make sure that that is the culture at our institution. It’s something that we’re proud of.”
So I really encourage our members to think about what the legacy is going to be at your institution. When you think about the projects that you want to start, what do you want the tone to be? What are the needs specifically of your community? How do you want to rely on each other? How do you want to build these connections within GHHS to really have an impact? And we are here for support along the way. Just like last year, we look forward to seeing what the outcome is and seeing posters or seeing presentations that are interesting to you, that you’d like to share.
And then also, that this initiative isn’t limited to our members that are currently in medical school. If there’s involvement from our resident members that want to be involved, if there’s members that have graduated from medical school 10 years ago and are immersed in healthcare and in practice and are looking to get involved in mentorship programs or in the humanities, as Dr. Stone was sharing, or any level of this.
This project is all hands on deck, and we would be happy to have everybody engaged. And I’m always happy to get on the phone or to get on a Zoom and brainstorm ways to get involved because your voice matters. And we are just on the backend watching what the magic is that kind of happens at your level, so feel free to contact us and thank you all for your involvement.
And I so look forward to seeing what a beautiful journey this initiative takes. And in a year, in two years, in 10 years, whatever time that is required for change. So thank you so much.
Dr. Hellen Ransom
And thanks to those four GHHS leaders for sharing their wisdom and introducing us all to the new GHHS International Initiative, “Healing the Heart of Healthcare.” You can find more information and ideas on our website, www. gold-foundation.org, including the show notes for this episode.
You can learn more about all the things mentioned here, including the GHHS listserv, the GHHS committees, the Veterans Gold Health Initiative, and much more.
Each action, every project, however small, moves us forward. We cannot create a wholly humanistic world overnight or even in a year or a decade, but we can do our part to connect with each other, lean on the relationships with our communities, and continue to remain steadfast in our commitment. We hope that the new GHHS International Initiative, “Healing the Heart of Healthcare,” will help us do just that.
Until next time, take care.