“What is humanism to you?”

First day word cloud (click to enlarge)

“What is humanism to you?” was the question that kick- started our Gold Humanism Honor Society 2017 National Conference. Dr. Howard Silverman, the 2017 Conference Chair, asked all attendees to answer this simple question. A word cloud of responses was generated showing the most common word to be ‘Compassion.’ This was no surprise as the Gold Foundation’s mission is to sustain the commitment of healthcare professionals to provide compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent patient care.

Later that day, conference attendees were offered words of wisdom during the Opening Plenary from Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen as she stated that “many people feel the need to protect their heart in their work. But in reality, it is the heart that protects us.” That night conference attendees were given an uplifting reminder by speaker Dr. George Thibault, President of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, stating “….we have a unique opportunity to touch the lives of other human beings and to help them.” (full text of his speech)

On the second day of the conference, conference attendees were shown a video of the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy’s 2016 Golden Thread Gala speech. Dr. Murthy stated that “our world is locked in a struggle between love and fear and we must tip the scale towards love.” At the end of this viewing, the conference vibe had shifted and tears were noticeable among attendees.

On the final day of the conference, Dr. Howard Silverman again encouraged attendees to answer the simple question “What is ‘humanism’ to you?”  See below for the difference in responses; the most popular word was now ‘Love.’

Humanism can be defined as “any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.”  With Love predominating the end of conference results, attendees can proudly affirm that they took Dr. Murthy’s words to heart, putting their thumbs on the scale to tip it toward love.


Word cloud from first day of conference.

Word cloud from last day of conference.


Nicole Napolitano

Senior Fellow, Humanism in Medicine

Nicole Napolitano is The Arnold P. Gold Foundation's senior fellow and a 2016 graduate from Quinnipiac University where she studied biology, chemistry and psychology. Nicole has previously volunteered in child life and hospice care, and with teaching disabled children how to ski. She  is enthusiastic to work towards keeping healthcare human.