“Nursing will be forever grateful to Elaine Adler”: Dr. Deborah Trautman’s remarks at the 2019 Golden Thread Gala

Dr. Deborah Trautman, president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, accepted the 2019 National Humanism in Medicine Medal on behalf of Elaine Adler at the Golden Thread Gala on June 13, 2019, in New York City. These are her remarks. Watch a video of her remarks here.

Good evening,

As the Chief Executive Officer of AACN, the voice of academic nursing, it is truly my honor to be here tonight to accept this award on behalf of Elaine Adler and for nurses everywhere who share her commitment to infusing humanism into health care.

Since the origin of the profession, nurses have recognized the great impact that a strong concern for human welfare — coupled with a knowledge of science — can have such a significant impact on the care of patients, on the care of families, and for communities. Elaine and her husband, Mike, understand this connection and the invaluable contributions that nurses make to health and well-being.

Dr. Deborah Trautman, speaking at the 2019 Golden Thread Gala

Five years ago, AACN and the Gold Foundation announced a bold new partnership that would introduce White Coat Ceremonies to schools of nursing. These ceremonies, which had long been a rite of passage for students entering medical school, would now be presented at nursing schools due to the generous support from the Myron and Elaine Adler Private Foundation.

Elaine and Mike Adler were convinced that the success of humanism in health care, while resting on the shoulders of many — could and would not be successful without nurses. The Alder’s public and personal experiences gave them firsthand knowledge that patient-centered nursing care and patient-centered care matters for all.

In a press statement released to celebrate this new milestone in nursing, AACN underscored that “Inviting nursing into this initiative sent a clear message that all health professionals have an essential role to play in providing compassionate care.” It’s all of us. We applauded “our colleagues with the Gold Foundation as well as the Adlers for supporting this visionary effort that promotes excellence in healthcare delivery and interprofessional engagement.”

Since 2014, the Adlers have provided continuous support to nursing schools looking to offer White Coat Ceremonies. To date, nearly half of all the nursing schools in the nation that offer baccalaureate and graduate education — 360 academic institutions — now offer White Coat Ceremonies, which require incoming students to commit to providing compassionate care from the start of their clinical nursing education.

I myself have had the privilege of attending many of these ceremonies over the years and I have witnessed firsthand the impact these events have on the professional formation of future nurses, but equally so, their parents, friends and families that join them at these events.

Nursing will be forever grateful to Elaine Adler for her commitment to shaping the future of health care and for elevating the patient care experience to be the best it could be through humanism.

I know that if Elaine were here, in addition to recognizing and being appreciative of this award, she would also like to thank and recognize the other awardees. On her behalf, I would like to recognize the other recipients. Anna Quindlen, thank you so much for all you have done to shape the national dialogue about the need for compassionate care, and a great colleague of mine and a dear friend to AACN, Dr. George Thibault, thank you, your leadership has been extraordinary, you have led groundbreaking work that has advanced interprofessional education and practice and it is transforming care and education around the world.

Tonight’s honorees, indeed, are making a real difference in improving health and health care, for which we are all grateful. Thank you very much.