2020 GHHS National Initiative

Humanism and Healing: Structural racism and its impact on medicine


The 2020 GHHS National Initiative hopes to encourage GHHS members to use their leadership roles to start or extend conversations about racism and its impact on medicine/healthcare in their local communities and beyond, to create space for grieving, processing, and bearing witness around this topic, or to take action in one of many powerful ways that humanism can begin to heal.

Many schools and chapters have already begun efforts around the topic of systemic racism and the 2020 GHHS National Initiative, Humanism and Healing: Structural racism and its impact on medicine, can act as a portal to honor and extend what is already being done.

GHHS staff encourages 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.

For more information about the 2020 National Initiative, please contact Stacy- Ann Morris, Program Coordinator, at smorris@gold-foundation.org.

Read the full announcement HERE.

Here are some ideas for your chapter to get involved:

1)    Reflective writing working groups: using articles, film, written pieces of history, etc., to start difficult conversations
2)    Creating a video series
Other ideas:

3)    How does your community tell their story of racism (e.g. exploring the murals of Philadelphia to tell a story)

4)    Create a dialog with or activity for communities at the direction of community leaders

5)    Holding local panel discussions about the challenges of racism in your communities

6)    Connect with other chapters to hold virtual panel discussions to share experiences and learn from one another (understanding how geography, history, etc., impacts the progress being made in the fight against racism.)

7)    COVID-19: asking the hard questions: why were underserved populations more impacted by COVID-19? (Delving into the experiences as hospitals)

8)    Speaking to students who have experienced challenges directly related to their race (getting into college, getting into medical school, etc.) How can their experiences impact the system as a whole?

9)    Encouraging individual chapters to have a difficult conversation about our own self-reflection – what is GHHS doing well and where can we improve?

Tell us how your chapter will implement the national initiative on your campus by filling out this form.

Guide on how to open conversations about difficult topics with optimal effectiveness

Humanism in medicine often requires a period of flexing muscles we may not always have used in the past. Sometimes, just the act of bringing awareness to certain topics affecting both our professional and personal interactions may evoke strong reactions that can impede our ability to receive such insight and/or feedback. The Gold Humanism Honor Society recognizes both the necessity of addressing structural racism within our healthcare communities and work spaces in an open and nonjudgmental environment, and yet also appreciates the sensitive nature of having these discussions due to their potential to create defensiveness, divisiveness, or even greater power imbalances. The reasons for these sorts of difficulties may include any of the following:

  • Differences in upbringings
  • Differences of political opinions
  • Differences of religious or spiritual beliefs
  • Differences in cultural beliefs
  • Varied skill and experience levels
  • Varied comfort levels speaking truthfully in group or intimate settings
  • Varied levels of power among participants
  • Unrelated difficulties that arose elsewhere in one’s daily life prior to the interaction
  • Misunderstandings regarding group motives or intent

Access a guide on how to open conversations about difficult topics with optimal effectiveness.

The Gold Connection: A GHHS Podcast

To begin the conversation, GHHS staff and three members of the GHHS Advisory Council gathered to produce a podcast. This podcast episode opens a dialogue from four different perspective about structural racism, the role of the Gold Humanism Honor Society in this discussion and the role of humanism in the fight against racism.

Go to Episode 1: The Gold Initiative: Racism & Its Impact on Medicine, the debut of the Gold Connection: A GHHS Podcast, listen on Spotify or on Anchor, or click below to listen.