Healing the Heart of Healthcare: Reimagining how we listen, connect, and collaborate

Announcing a GHHS initiative to propel
humanism forward in 2022 and beyond

The heart of healthcare is humanism. And true humanistic care – compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent care – depends on seeing each other’s humanity. The humanity of the patients we care for, and our own humanity, which has frequently been neglected through the difficult, seemingly endless hours of this pandemic. Without humanism, without deep understanding and respect for each other, we all suffer. Our mental health is at stake. Our connection to each other is at risk.

The Gold Humanism Honor Society’s latest initiative is a call to reinforce our essential humanism and humanity. “Healing the Heart of Healthcare: Reimagining How we Listen, Connect, and Collaborate” is a multi-year initiative designed to continue creating the change that true humanistic healthcare requires.

We encourage your work in this initiative to lean on the power of community building, storytelling and health-related narratives (art, music, film, writing, dance, etc.), mentorship programs (doctors and educators to medical students, but also students to their docs!), and more. Through these projects, we hope to fortify our relationships, highlight a variety of perspectives across the continuum of healthcare, and gaze forward to a brighter future.

The background

“Healing the Heart of Healthcare” extends the work that was started with the 2020-2021 GHHS National Initiative, “Humanism & Healing: Structural Racism & Its Impact on Medicine.”

The work in 2020-2021 led to the Humanism & Healing Conference, hosted by GHHS in May 2021. The virtual gathering highlighted the power of our connections, as GHHS members and Gold leaders across the globe gathered to share their projects, learnings, art, and insights around structural racism and the many barriers to humanistic care.

There remains an immense need to speak up about all that has been broken and importantly, to encourage GHHS members and colleagues to be innovative and empowered in creating a healthcare system that reflects the values that led them into this field.

Change requires time, which is why we are extending this new initiative beyond one year. This initiative is a call to action rooted in greater understanding of the impact the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have had on our psyche, our connections, and healthcare at large.

We understand that some of the issues that require change feel overwhelming! Each action, however small, nudges us forward. We cannot create a wholly humanistic world overnight, or even in a year, or a decade. But we can do our part to move us forward.

How to get started

“Healing the Heart of Healthcare” is intentionally designed to be a wide-open space to help you create the difference that your own space and community most needs. Here are some steps to help lead you through the process of discovering the project, event, activity, or other work that fits your specific chapter or region.

  1. Identify the needs of your community. What is your call to action?
  2. Come together as a chapter to identify possible ways you can help with this need. Meet with others in the community to understand the needs from various perspectives. Brainstorm together. A list of starting ideas is below. The work of each chapter will be different, depending on what you identify as an area where you can make a difference.
  3. Map out a plan and share it with leaders at your organization, from your GHHS chapter advisors to your deans and hospital-affiliated leaders.
  4. Share your project with the GHHS national staff. Let us know if you need some funding to support your work, or if we can help in other ways, such as connecting your chapter with others to maximize your efforts, or linking you with an expert in your particular area of focus.
  5. Work toward holding the project or event you envision.
  6. Hold your project or event. Capture your learnings and lessons for others! Tag the Gold Foundation on social media, and we will help you amplify your project or event and your discoveries.
  7.  Apply to present your work at the next Gold conference hosted by GHHS. Stay tuned for additional information!
  8. PASS IT ALONG! By passing your project to the next class of GHHS, the work and impact will have an opportunity to grow.

Ideas for your chapter to get involved

  • Structural Racism and its Impact on Medicine (the 2021-2022 initiative): What are healthcare’s next steps in the fight against structural racism in healthcare? What did you learn from your chapter’s work on the 2020-2021 initiative? What role can your GHHS chapter play next in making forward progress?
  • Writing workshop: Organize a workshop at your Institution to begin to unpack the trauma of the past year. Encourage your peers to write for 10 minutes each day to reflect on the way their emotions have impacted them. Compile the pieces into a small book over a reflective conversation.
  • Mentorship projects: Identify different perspectives in your local community (medical students, residents, attending, retired physicians, nurses, social workers, etc.) and create a mentorship program to connect with one another.
  • Mental health: Create panel discussions or begin conversations around the stigmas of mental health struggles within healthcare. Are there local experts in meditation, mindfulness, or other intervention programs you could bring in to support this work?
  • Story Slams/Storytelling: Work with individuals in your community to begin capturing stories of their experiences over the past year, their hardships, victories, and plans to rebuild stronger! (Remember, stories can be told in the form of writing, but also through art, music, etc.!)
  • Community outreach: Work within your community to plan activities or outreach to rebuild after the dual pandemics.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic: Probe the impact that the pandemic has had on the human connection, specifically with the use of telehealth and a transformed ability to interact with patients.

Sign up here for the Healing the Heart of Healthcare Initiative.