Announcing two 2021 Gold Humanism Scholars at the Harvard Macy Institute

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is pleased to announce the 2021 Gold Humanism Scholars at the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators:

  • Hetty Cunningham, MD, of Columbia University, whose project focuses on “Empowering an Anti-Racist Educator Community of Practice to Support Training in High-Quality Interprofessional Collaboration”
  • Efrat Lelkes, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, whose project focuses on “Embedding Narrative Ethics into Pediatric Training”

“We proudly welcome our 2021 Gold Humanism Scholars, Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Lelkes, who are tackling the pressing issues of bolstering ethics training and tackling racism in clinical settings. Through their projects, they aim to bring more understanding and compassion into healthcare for physicians, trainees, patients, and their families,” said Ann Bruder, Associate Vice President of Programs at the Gold Foundation.

Each year, the Gold Foundation selects healthcare educators for this prestigious scholarship whose work helps develop or evaluate educational projects focused on humanistic patient care. The projects must be able to be replicated across healthcare settings, which will amplify their impact even farther.

The Gold Humanism Scholars receive partial scholarships of $5,000 to attend the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI) Program for Educators in the Health Professions. This highly interactive faculty development program meets for two 5-day sessions during each year in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gold Humanism Scholars learn innovative methods to teach and assess their projects, as well as how to steer and champion their projects successfully through a maze of academic requirements.

HMI creates a community of international educators and leaders. The passion for humanism brought by the Gold Humanism Scholars program permeates the educational environment and helps spark new collaborations.

The Gold Humanism Scholars are also mentored by a member of the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators faculty who has previously been a Gold Humanism Scholar. Again this year, Gregory (Greg) S. Cherr, MD, FACS, who was a 2012 Gold Humanism Scholar, will join the program as a faculty member and mentor. Dr. Cherr is Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for GME at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences – University at Buffalo. He is also Chair of the Gold Humanism Honor Society Advisory Council and member of the Gold Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Empowering an Anti-Racist Educator Community of Practice to Support Training in High-Quality Interprofessional Collaboration

Dr. Hetty Cunningham

Dr. Hetty Cunningham

Dr. Hetty Cunningham is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Associate Vice Chair for Education and the Learning Environment in the Department of Pediatrics, and Director for Equity and Justice in Curricular Affairs at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S). She is also Director of the VP&S Portfolio curriculum, a Narrative Medicine-based reflective writing curriculum for medical students that she helped develop. She was awarded the Gold Foundation’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award in 2021.

Dr. Cunningham’s project aims to address anti-racism in healthcare settings by developing a 4-year anti-racist interprofessional teamwork curriculum, which will incorporate marginalized voices that are often overlooked in healthcare. Such a curriculum would improve the capacity of healthcare workers to work in diverse team settings and ultimately maximize the quality and safety of patient care.

She aims to engage the Irving Medical Center’s newly formed Anti-Racist Educator Community of Practice (ARECP) to develop the curriculum, which could draw on critical theory (including race, feminist, and queer), intergroup dynamic frameworks of organizational psychology, and inclusionary practice skills, such as Courageous Conversations™. Such frameworks can offer language and skills to name and address effects of systemic racism on communities of education and practice, aiding teams to benefit fully from the diversity of members, with patients being the ultimate beneficiaries of diverse healthcare teams that communicate at the highest levels.

In addition, Dr. Cunningham hosted an anti-racism summit in February 2021 – attended by 90 faculty and student teachers – and aims to share learnings from this project at the next anti-racism summit. The curriculum will be further disseminated to the medical education community through scholarly publications and conferences.

Embedding Narrative Ethics into Pediatric Training

Dr. Efrat Lelkes

Dr. Efrat Lelkes

Dr. Efrat Lelkes is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and Director of GME Wellbeing for the Department of Pediatrics. She is also Medical Co-Director of By the Bay Kids, a pediatric home hospice and palliative care program.

Dr. Lelkes’ project focuses on embedding narrative ethics into pediatric training and clinical care. Ethics consultations are not common in children’s hospitals, which makes diagnosis, treatment and resolution difficult, especially in complex medical situations involving the patient, as well as painful end-of-life scenarios. In addition, ethics is largely taught in medical education and tends not to be as infused in clinical care and practice.

Dr. Lelkes will be leading a two-year mixed-methods study that aims to: 1) define the current state of ethics education in pediatric residency and fellow training; 2) design a curriculum using a narrative ethics approach for pediatric trainees and associated faculty development; 3) pilot test an embedded narrative ethics approach in pediatrics training; and 4) measure the impact of the pilot on ethics education during pediatric training. Fellow team members on this study include Dr. Thomas McNalley, Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, a GHHS member and former GHHS chapter advisor, and Dr. Barbara Koenig, Professor of Bioethics and Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lelkes hopes this project will expand to include not just physicians but nurses, social workers and all members of the healthcare team.

Narrative ethics has the potential to bring a critical component to improving patient care, explains Dr. Lelkes in her proposal. Narrative ethics focuses not on “what to do” but on the story of “how we got here,” by bringing different voices and characters (including ourselves) to strive for a resolution. Narrative ethics can create a reflective space and weave together a moral community – in turn, offering new perspectives, and re-emphasizing physicians’ role as healers, instead of fixers, or judges. This work also aims to alleviate burnout and distress that is rampant among physicians, medical students and staff and help improve their well-being, ultimately leading to improved patient care.

Read more about the Gold Humanism Scholars at the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators.

Munira Syeda

Munira Syeda is a contributing writer to the Gold Foundation.