GHHS 2020 National Initiative to focus on opening conversations about racism in medicine

The Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) announces its 2020 National Initiative: Humanism and Healing: Structural Racism and its Impact on Medicine, which is designed to help move toward more of a humanistic, anti-racist culture in medical schools and healthcare broadly. The 2020 National Initiative is accompanied by the debut of a new podcast, The Gold Connection, which will chronicle the yearlong activities.

Racism is in direct opposition to the tenets of humanism, which include empathy, compassion, and respect for all human beings. The 2020 GHHS National Initiative encourages GHHS members to use their leadership roles to start or extend conversations about racism and its deep, long-standing impact on medicine. The ultimate aim is to help shift policies and culture to become anti-racist and more humanistic – for trainees, clinicians, healthcare staff, patients, and their families.

“Racism has no place in healthcare, and the 2020 GHHS National Initiative is an important part of our explicit definition that humanism is anti-racist,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit organization that champions compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent healthcare and created the honor society in 2002.

“We hope this initiative will spark members to work in their local communities and beyond to take action and to create space for grieving, processing, and bearing witness around this topic, which can ultimately lead to change,” said Louisa Tvito, Director of GHHS and Program Initiatives at The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

The Gold Humanism Honor Society has chapters in more than 160 medical schools around the world. Members are selected by their peers for their compassionate patient care and respect for their colleagues. More than 35,000 physicians, medical students and other healthcare professionals are members of GHHS.

Each year, GHHS selects a National Initiative, which focuses on an important issue that each chapter is encouraged is adopt and create their own related events and activities. The 2019 National Initiative focused on the care of veterans and elevating awareness around veterans’ often hidden presence and overlooked specific care needs.

“We understand that each GHHS chapter is unique, and therefore need to approach this  initiative in a way that reflects their desire to serve their patients, community, and one another,” said Ms. Tvito. “We look forward to a year of growth and partnership, which will culminate in a virtual GHHS conference about this topic in May.”

Many medical schools and chapters have already begun efforts related to addressing racism. The 2020 initiative can also act as a portal to recognize and extend what is already being done.

“GHHS members are the most incredible leaders of humanism in their communities,” said Louisa Tvito, GHHS Director, “They have proven time and again that they have a deep desire to honor and celebrate the perspectives of others and that they approach each topic with the intent to learn about their patients, peers, and colleagues by honing their skills to listen actively to one another.”

The Gold Connection podcast will help capture some of the activities, conversations, and work underway by the GHHS chapters in 2020-2021 and beyond. The first episode, which launched today, provides an introduction to the 2020 National Initiative from Ms. Tvito and three members of the GHHS Advisory Council, which advises the Gold Foundation on GHHS policies and activities.

The first episode is hosted by Dr. Hellen Ransom, GHHS chapter advisor at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, and also features Enioluwafe Ojo, a fourth-year medical student at University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Candice Passerella, a fourth-year medical student at Howard University College of Medicine.

Later episodes will appear in a few months, once the 2020 National Initiative is well underway.

“We encourage our chapters to remind the world that humanity, through the deepest compassion for one another, through personal narratives, education, and promoting accountability, can begin to slowly foster healing. We recognize the necessity of addressing structural racism within our healthcare communities and workspaces in an open and nonjudgmental environment, and yet also appreciate the sensitive nature of having these discussions due to their potential to create defensiveness, divisiveness, or even greater power imbalances,” said Ms. Tvito.

To encourage these conversations to be productive and healing, the 2020 National Initiative includes links to resources on holding conversations on racism and recommends including a trained facilitator or expert in conversations and activities.

GHHS chapters can enroll in the 2020 National Initiative and share their ideas and plans through this form. Members who have graduated medical school and are now in practice and/or leadership positions are also welcome to participate and use this platform as a launchpad to engage at hospitals, health systems, corporations, and other health organizations.

For updates about the 2020 National Initiative, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, News & Notes, and follow the Gold Foundation on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram orFacebook.

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