We must take up the banner for humanism: Dr. George Thibault’s remarks at the 2019 Golden Thread Gala

Dr. George Thibault received the 2019 National Humanism in Medicine Medal at the Golden Thread Gala on June 13, 2019, in New York City. These are his acceptance remarks:

I think that’s the most extraordinary introduction I’ve ever had. Thank you, Holly, and it means even more to me, because I know you and your career well, and humanistic principles have been the guiding light of your career.

Getting any honor is important and meaningful, but getting this one is particularly touching because it’s coming from an organization that I have so much respect for and it’s for a cause that is more important than ever.

Dr. George Thibault, speaking at the 2019 Golden Thread Gala, on June 13, 2019

I’ve said on other occasions that if the Gold Foundation had not been created 30 years ago, we would need to create it now, because the forces counter to humanism and anti-humanistic behavior are even stronger than when Arnold and Sandra had this vision 30 years ago. But because of the Gold Foundation, our health professions have been given knowledge, tools and incentives to put human interests, values and dignity at the center of our attention so that we can harness science and technology with empathy, compassion and the human touch. And it is that combination of humanism and science that enables our health professionals to be healers. And that’s what our patients want, and that’s what our society needs.

Because of the Gold Foundation, we are in a better position than we would have been, but our work is far from done. There is much more to do to go wider and deeper across the health professions. We have more to do to put our house in order.

That is not all of our work. Anti-humanistic forces are alive and well across our society. Rhetoric, behaviors, and policies that are anti-humanistic, that hurt present and future patients, and challenge our professional ideals are alive and well.

We must take up the banner and the responsibility of not only being ourselves the beacons for humanism but be advocates for humanistic policies in the public arena. And that is very much our responsibility as professionals.

I humbly accept this award with the promise and the obligation to increase my own efforts to instill humanism across the profession and to be active in the public discourse. And I will close by saying, to the students and trainees in the audience, I am optimistic. I am optimistic because I travel the country and I meet with you, and I talk to you. And because of the work of the Gold Foundation, because many esteemed colleagues that I have in the professions, and because of those that are following us, I am optimistic about the future. But only if we all take up this banner, this mission, this cause, and make it burn brightly in our own lives, in our own work as professionals; and actively participate in our society to make it better and more humanistic.

Thank you very much.