Mapping the Landscape community gathers for 2018 Research Symposium

Grantees Susan Orrange, Paula Rowland and Greg Cher in discussion at a poster session

On May 20-22, 2018, 90 scholars from the Mapping the Landscape, Journeying Together community met in Chicago for a three-day symposium to present their work on humanism in healthcare, network with like-minded colleagues, and build skills in research, education and advocating for change.

Mapping the Landscape, Journeying Together (MTL) is a community of practice dedicated to making research-based change to humanize healthcare for patients, clinicians and learners.

Symposium attendees include professionals in disciplines in and beyond medicine, such as public health, nursing, sociology, psychology and library science. Participants also span professional levels, with trainees mentored by more senior team members. When this inter-professional, inter-generational community gathers in person, discussions are meaningful and lay the foundation for on-the-ground change.

Encouraging innovative thinking

Innovative formats, sometimes known as “liberating structures,” are a special highlight of the symposium. After welcoming remarks, attendees were asked to select an image that had something to say about “Keeping Healthcare Human” from the set of photographs and illustration cards laid out on tables. This icebreaker was effective in getting participants talking about values that would be central to discussions over the next three days.

“I look forward to this symposium each year,” shared one attendee in the post-symposium evaluation. “The creativity, originality and freshness of ideas is second to none. I really appreciate the many different ways of learning and connecting that are present each year at the MTL symposium and the support of all of our work. It has propelled the field forward.”

This was the fourth symposium of the Mapping the Landscape, Journey Together initiative.

“Every year we invite community members to bring their ‘whole selves’ to this gathering, and to fully engage intellectually, creatively and emotionally,” said Dr. Elizabeth Gaufberg, Jean and Harvey Picker Director of the Gold Foundation Research Institute. “Our community of practice is quite successful by traditional academic metrics such as publications in peer-reviewed journals, but even more important is that we are leading change that improves the experience of patients and learners.”

Charting a course forward

The 20 teams who had completed their projects gave dynamic 5-minute presentations about what inspired them to take on the work they chose, what they learned, and what the community could do with their findings to make change. The 22 teams who were halfway through their projects presented their works in progress during two poster sessions, where they received helpful feedback from attendees.

“The symposium was incredibly inspiring to a young physician like me,” shared one attendee. “Having the opportunity to see others dedicate their careers to making medicine more humanistic and patient-centered was invaluable. It charged my batteries to keep the cause going!”

New this year was the creation of five thematic clusters to facilitate consultation and collaboration among those doing similar work:

  • Advocacy & Health Disparities
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Health Professions Education & the Learning Environment
  • Humanism with Patients & Families
  • Well-being & Burnout

These groups met three times over the course of the symposium to talk about “big ideas” confronting their area of study, to workshop project ideas, and to talk about next steps.  One participant reflected, “I think the topic groups were a lovely innovation. We were really bonded by the end of the symposium and had developed some really great project ideas.”

Attendees were also able to participate in three of 10 different workshops, all of which were led by experts within the MTL community and covered areas and methods such as implicit bias, mindfulness, qualitative methods, reflective drawing, and design thinking.

Celebrating our community

Liz Gaufberg, Helen Riess and Richard Frankel celebrate Helen’s award

One of the most meaningful parts of the symposium was a presentation of awards to five individuals whose contributions to the MTL community had been recognized in a nomination process. The awards were named for five people who were instrumental in developing the MTL initiative:

  • The Arthur Rubenstein Award for Leading with Integrity was given to Colin West, MD, PhD
  • The Rich Frankel Award for Creating a Loving Community was given to Helen Riess, MD
  • The Fred Hafferty Award for Fostering Culture Change was given to Barret Michalec, PhD
  • The Eric Holmboe Award for Measuring What Matters was given to Marleen Kunneman, PhD
  • The Tina Martimianakis Award for Connecting People and Ideas was given to Sophie Soklaridis, PhD

Participants were also treated to a reading by author, endocrinologist and healthcare improvement expert Victor Montori, MD from his new book “Why We Revolt”: A Patient Revolution for Careful and Kind Care”; a listening exercise focused on jazz and the art of medicine, led by Gold Professor Alex Green, MD; and a Story Slam hosted by Laura Rock, MD, where people told stories on the theme of “a journey.”

Creating a direct impact on patients, learners and research

In evaluations, 100% of participants said that as a result of being part of the Mapping the Landscape community they have gained insight or skills that directly impact the work they do with patients, in medical education or in research.

International attendees Karina Pereira-Lima, Psy, MSc of the University of São Paulo, Brazil and Tiffany I. Leung, MD, MPH, FACP of Maastricht University in The Netherlands, wrote to Research Institute staff after the symposium about their experience:

During the three intensive days at the MTL Symposium, we felt immediately welcomed and at home in a place where interprofessional and international collaborators craft creative approaches and solutions to answer some of the most difficult questions in health professions education.

In this community of newfound colleagues, participants share a profound capability to connect deeply and meaningfully with both human vulnerability and immeasurable human fortitude; then, channel this into a variety of initiatives in research, education, advocacy, and more that impacts the medical profession well beyond MTL alone.

Sandy Sufian and Sandra Gold

In the past five years, the Gold Foundation Research Institute’s MTL initiative has funded 70 Literature Review grants on topics related to humanism in healthcare. The initiative has also funded 17 Advocacy & Discovery grants that allow teams who’ve already conducted literature reviews to act on their findings by advocating for or implementing best practices or conducting research to fill a gap in the field.

“Working with the MTL community has had a profound impact on me,” wrote one grantee. “I have met people with whom I would never have crossed paths, and several of those contacts have resulted in changes in other work that I do. The inter-professional nature of the group has been refreshing, and the perspective taking that working together prompts is invaluable.”

We invite you to look through the symposium program book to see participant bios and research abstracts. To keep up with what’s happening in the MTL community, follow the hashtag #GoldMTL on Twitter and check out our growing list of published work.



Brandy King, MLIS

Head of Information Services

Provides research services for staff, maintains resources on humanism and healthcare and works closely with Research Institute grantees.