GHHS Chapter Toolkit: Chapter Activities

GHHS membership is not just an honor. Participation in chapter activities enables GHHS members to be role models for humanism, serve as mentors, and galvanize fellow students, faculty, and staff at their institution to create a culture of compassionate, patient-centered care. Members bond in a common cause and build chapter sustainability as they pass on activities to future GHHS members. Building a network of advocates for compassionate care is a critical mission of GHHS and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and serving as a mentor is a key responsibility of every member of the Society. Each GHHS chapter is asked to explore creative ways to support all individuals in its home institution in order to encourage a humanistic approach to the learning and practice of medicine. In addition to providing mentoring, GHHS members should engender the support of their community to initiate and sustain sponsored projects that serve community needs, enhance the inclusion of the humanities in medical education, and provide reflection opportunities.

Activities Examples

Each chapter has the flexibility to create a unique plan that will benefit its institution and community. Most activities, programs, and projects are initiated and carried out on a local level. Other GHHS projects are rolled out and shared on a National level by the Program Committee, either because there is felt to be an urgent national need or because of the enthusiasm and success they engendered at the local institution where they were developed. Here are some general categories that can be considered when thinking about GHHS programming.

Mentoring: Mentoring doesn’t have to be in the form of the classic one-to-one model. Group mentoring and peer or near-peer mentoring have become very common in medical education. GHHS chapter members can arrange workshops, panel discussions, lectures, roundtable discussions, dinners, Schwartz Rounds, and reflective sessions for first-, second-, third-, and fourth- year medical students and for residents/fellows that will support and nurture their humanistic values. Topics include cadaveric dissection, transition to the clinics, burnout, work/life balance, death, the “hidden curriculum”, stress, and the moving on to residency and beyond. GHHS students can help their peers understand that everyone struggles with fear and doubt as they train to become a physician, and that talking openly and honestly with others about these shared experiences will help trainees to remember the joys and rewards of practicing medicine.

Improving Care for vulnerable populations: Many chapters develop programs
that help patients who are often marginalized, including for example, those who
are near the end of life, or speak English as a second language, are
economically deprived, uninsured, disabled, or are refugees, o r victims of
abuse. The chapters may set up or participate in student-run clinics, develop
opportunities for home visits to chronically ill, homebound or elderly patients, and
get involved in large scale food, clothing, and other needed supplies for people
in need . See examples on our website.

Appreciating and recognizing humanism in action: Chapters remind health care providers of the importance of compassionate care by recognizing hospital and office staff who go above and beyond to help patients and colleagues. Recognition may involve awards, cards, public displays, ceremonies, gifts, dinners, and other activities. Solidarity Week (see below)is an excellent time for

Encouraging curricular change: GHHS members have been extremely
effective in encouraging administrators to include humanistic topics in the
curriculum such as effective communication, understanding cultural
differences, ethical dilemmas, end of life issues, and spirituality. GHHS
members can also serve as facilitators and workshop leaders in innovative
academic programs.

Celebration of humanism through literature and the arts: GHHS chapters
have introduced the arts and humanities into their medical environments in a
number of ways, including through creative writing, literature and poetry
discussions, visits to art museums, performances, instillations, and other

IRB Approved Research Projects to promote advancement of humanistic
health care: These are unique and creative projects that may span several
years in an institution and are almost always interprofessional and collaborative
in nature. They lead to presentation in conferences and sometimes publication
and when successful lead to improvements in the care of patients or education
of practitioners.

Build your own: harness the passion and creativity by inviting your chapter
members to create unique, impactful and meaningful activities and programs.

GHHS National Initiative

Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care is a day or days of celebration shared by GHHS chapters throughout the country. This program recognizes the power of compassion through special events. It is typically during the week of February 14 to coincide with Valentine’s Day. All GHHS chapters are asked to participate in some way in this day of recognition of the importance of compassionate, patient-centered care. Consider teaming up with another GHHS chapter in your region to plan a collaborative event. For more information click here.

Thank a Resident Day: Residency is a key component of graduate medical training, offering an in-depth exposure to medical practice. It can often lead to long working hours matched with many responsibilities. Residents serve as the “house staff” of the hospital and are an integral part to the healthcare team, often serving as indispensable resources for medical students, especially during a clinical clerkship. In 2018, the Gold Humanism Honor Society decided to bring to light the importance of the residence staff and encourage medical students at chapters throughout the nation to show their gratitude and appreciation. For more information click here.

GHHS Gold Guide & GHHS newsletter

The Gold Guide is a manual of programs submitted by GHHS members to create a compassionate and supportive learning environment. The activities in the guide are intended to help all medical students, residents, staff, and faculty make their learning environments respectful, empathetic,
understanding, and caring. Please use these ideas as jumping off points to create your own
individualized activities tailored to the needs of your institution.

A copy of which can be downloaded here:

Other programming ideas may be found in the GHHS newsletter, The Gold Connection, which is sent to every GHHS member three times a year. Please see our website for examples of these programs here: