Unique ceremony to notify new GHHS members

Meagan Henry, M3 (right) accepting her smiley face balloon from John Caleb Grenn, M4 (left) in the middle of the busy student lounge.

by John Caleb Grenn

Each year, third year medical students at the University of Mississippi Medical Center nominate their peers for election into the Gold Humanism Honors Society, a national society that celebrates compassionate, patient-centered medical care. The nominees are voted into the society by faculty that work directly with students throughout their third year, usually selecting 24 or 25 students from each class. This year, to announce those elected for the prestigious award, fourth year members of the society decided to have a “tapping ceremony.”

With giant gold smiley-face balloons and golden bags filled with golden candy, M4 students were seen scurrying about the Mississippi medical campus on a Monday afternoon, announcing publicly those who were elected to be inducted into the Gold Humanism Honors Society with a handshake, a congratulations, and of course the big balloon and goodie bag. In other words, they were “tapped” into the society by a current member.

“I’m incredibly honored and excited, and that balloon made my whole day,” said Meagan Henry, a new M3 inductee who was “tapped” in between scrubbing cases on her busy surgery rotation.

Ben Carroll, an M4 member of GHHS described the event like this: “Tap Day was so exciting! Most of the awards that get handed out in medical school happen at a banquet or a specialized ceremony that only the honorees and maybe a few guests attend. We wanted to honor this year’s Gold Humanism inductees in the everyday places where they earned the respect of their peers and faculty for representing the highest ideals of medicine – the classrooms, hallways, call rooms, and student lounge. These inductees were elected by their classmates, so we thought it was fitting that they find out in front of the same people who noticed something special in them.  ”

Members of the society are presented with a gold pin to wear on their white coats later at an induction ceremony in the summer. One student said she always knows that when she sees an attending physician or resident with a Gold Humanism pin on his or her coat, she knows that that is a good doctor and someone she can trust.  However, what’s most important about the society is that, in wearing these pins, members are publicly held to a standard of excellence in compassionate care of patients throughout their career—and how better to start out than by an announcement in front of their peers who think so highly of them.

John Caleb Grenn is a fourth year medical student and is serving as President of the GHHS chapter at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.