Gold Foundation President and CEO Dr. Richard I. Levin has been awarded a prestigious interprofessional honor from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the 2023 Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Lecture. This award recognizes his great partnership with nursing and how he has brought nurses and nursing education into the Gold Foundation’s fold.
Dr. Levin presented the lecture, titled “The Struggle for Trust: How the Human Connection is Key to the Future of Healthcare,” at the AACN Dean’s Meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 26. The lecture is named for nursing legend Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, who was the Chief Executive Officer of AACN from 1989 to 2014 and a former Gold Foundation Trustee. The Gold Foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions humanism in healthcare for all.
Dr. Levin touched upon how, in the last decade, the Gold Foundation has defined humanism in healthcare as consisting of three elements of caring: compassion, collaboration, and scientific excellence. He emphasized the bedside presence of clinical nurses and their intimate encounters with patients: “These three elements depend on seeing each other as humans and connecting, to each other, all of us, in every health encounter… Front-line nurses know this is the magic of care – they are close to their patients in ways doctors rarely are.”
As an interprofessional honor, the Bednash Lecture recognizes healthcare leaders for their role in elevating nursing. Last year’s honoree was Gold Trustee Dr. George Thibault, who is the former President of the Macy Foundation. The Gold Foundation and AACN work closely together on many initiatives, including bringing the Nursing Humanism/White Coat Ceremonies to hundreds of nursing schools and featuring nursing students in the annual Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest. The White Coat Ceremony was created by the Gold Foundation to emphasize the critical importance of compassion at the outset of clinical training.
Dr. Levin’s speech chronicled the mounting challenges to humanism – burnout, the shortage of nurses and doctors, unequal care, profits over patients, and loss of trust. In the end, he argued, humanism is the way forward.
“Nurses remain the most trusted profession in the nation, but sustaining nurses and the other healthcare professionals is a challenge of new urgency,” Dr. Levin said. “We must depend on leaders to guide us out of this crisis and the solutions must be interprofessional.”