GHHS Chapter Toolkit: Chapter Structure and Governance

GHHS is comprised of selected medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, and community physicians. All GHHS members at an institution should be encouraged to attend chapter meetings, participate in chapter activities, and provide humanistic mentorship, leadership, and role modeling in the medical community. To identify GHHS members within your community, contact the GHHS national office as well as the Office of the Dean and GME Office at your institution.


After the selection of new GHHS members, it is useful for the Chapter Advisor to bring them together to meet one another, bond, and plan for how they will support and encourage humanistic patient care in their environment. Ideally, a meeting should be held with outgoing graduating GHHS members as well as other GHHS members in the community so that chapter history, information, and advice can be shared.

Because many schools and institutions have GHHS members who are geographically separated from one another, it may be necessary to use electronic conference methods (e.g., phone, videoconference, email, Google Docs) to connect GHHS members. Regularly scheduled meetings are encouraged so that they can be anticipated and accommodated in schedules. Attendance may be improved by offering a meal at the time of the meeting.

Establishing Goals

GHHS membership is more than being honored by one’s peers. With membership comes the lifelong responsibility to serve as a teacher, role model, mentor, and advocate for compassionate, patient-centered care. Chapters are asked to think about establishing a goal to encourage and support humanistic thinking by medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty at their institutions. Some considerations include:

  1. How can the GHHS chapter increase its visibility by teaching and helping peers to foster their humanistic values in medical training and beyond?
  2. How can the GHHS chapter make a difference in terms of the educational curriculum of the institution?
  3. In what other ways can members serve as mentors, role models, and advocates?
  4. What can be accomplished with the resources (people, budget) and time that is available?
  5. What support and resources will be necessary and how will they be procured?
  6. How can the impact of chapter activities be assessed so that they can be improved over time


Establishing regular communication will be essential to the success of a GHHS chapter. GHHS members must be able to successfully communicate with their Chapter Advisor, current chapter members, their institutional GHHS alumni, the current members of their medical community, the GHHS national office, and with members of other GHHS chapters. Below are some suggestions for communication strategies:

In Writing

  • Email: Email is a very successful tool for communicating with all Once a group is inducted, consider establishing an email list or listserv that includes new members, outgoing members, chapter advisors, and residents, fellows, faculty, and other GHHS members at the institution. Assign a GHHS member to oversee the email list and to post regular announcements.
  • GHHS Facebook Forum: Join the conversation! Chapter Advisors should invite their members to join the GHHS Facebook Forum. This page is exclusively for GHHS members and provides an opportunity to share stories, questions, and articles.
  • Facebook pages for your Chapter: Consider creating a GHHS Facebook page for your chapter to share locally and
  • Twitter: Many chapters use Twitter to reach
  • Chapter Webpage: Creation of an institutional GHHS webpage on your institutions website is strongly encouraged. GHHS webpages serve a number of functions, including as a place to advertise the existence of GHHS, post member information, announce upcoming events, display achievements, store information from previous GHHS chapter efforts, and encourage contact within and beyond the Numerous GHHS chapters have established their own unique webpages. For information on the Gold Foundation brand colors or logos, please contact our staff. To find a list of chapters with individual webpages, visit the GHHS website.
  • National GHHS website: Remember that GHHS has its own national website that is part of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation website. Chapters can learn about what other chapters are doing, identify GHHS members and Chapter Advisors, read about conferences, identify resources, and much Please visit:
  • Chapter Advisors’ Listserv: Solicit feedback and ideas from other chapter advisors by using the Chapter Advisor listserv at
  • Newsletter: Electronic newsletters can be a helpful tool in sharing information among GHHS members and with the medical community and can be archived on your chapter MailChimp is a free and easy-to-use newsletter service.
  • National GHHS Newsletter: The Gold Connection is the official newsletter of It is a wonderful way to keep GHHS members in touch with activities of the Society. The Gold Connection is sent quarterly to all registered GHHS members. Each issue is filled with announcements of upcoming events, articles about individual members and chapters, photos, uplifting stories, and more. If GHHS chapters or members wish to contribute an article or message to The Gold Connection, please contact Louisa Tvito-Carro in the GHHS national office at

In- Person

    • GHHS National Conference: In the past, GHHS has hosted the GHHS Biennial Conference in the fall every other year. In 2019 we will be embedded within a much larger conference to allow for a rich, more diverse experience and begin to share our efforts with a broader audience. The Gold Foundation website will have up-to-date
    • GHHS Regional Conferences: In 2018, there were at least 5 conferences around the country sponsored in part or in full by from 1-8 GHHS chapters, in partnership with a host medical institution. We have developed templates to make the process planning easier. Please contact Stacy Morris at
    • GHHS National Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care: This national week is an opportunity for all GHHS chapters to celebrate compassionate care at their institutions. For great planning ideas that are updated annually, visit the GHHS website at:


As GHHS chapters mature, they develop a wealth of information that is important to transfer to future GHHS chapter members. Here are some suggestions for establishing continuity among chapter generations:

  • Establish a GHHS nomination and selection process that will allow for identification of new GHHS members well before the outgoing GHHS members leave the Make sure the old members meet with the new members to share information, brainstorm together, and “pass the torch.” Most schools find that selecting members by the early spring allows for this overlap.
  • Encourage chapter members to create programs and activities that can be perpetuated by future GHHS members at the
  • Create a GHHS website with a link and a permanent presence on the school website and store useful programming and historical chapter information Please be sure Photos are HIPAA compliant. Encouraging alumni news is welcome also. Share successes and challenges with our staff
  • Create a GHHS listserv by going to Gaggle, Google, Yahoo, Facebook or others to create your own member
  • Keep a database of all chapter members and encourage members to update their contact information as they move throughout their
  • Encourage all members to stay in contact with the GHHS national office and keep their contact information updated in the GHHS Directory as they move through their We are working on setting up alumni links and we are happy to hear your ideas on how to do so.


Success is difficult to measure without some sort of evaluation tool. Is your GHHS chapter having the impact on its members and on your institution that its founders had planned? Consider these methods of identifying both accomplishments and areas for improvement:

  • Request input locally: Learn about the visibility and impact of GHHS programs on humanism in the medical environment by talking with students and faculty colleagues in your This is a great opportunity to also solicit ideas for the future.
  • Community input: Ask for input from community members beyond your institution who have partnered with or benefited from GHHS What were the goals of the program and were they accomplished? How could improvements be made moving forward?
  • Consult your peers: Solicit feedback from other chapter advisors by using the Chapter Advisor listserv at
  • Each chapter advisor is asked to complete the GHHS Chapter Check-In Survey in a timely and thoughtful manner so that the national office can offer resources to promote chapter
  • Chapter Awards: Each spring, applications are solicited from all chapters wishing to be considered for a Distinguished Chapter award. There are currently only 2 categories of awards based on age of the chapter, and it reflects the holistic engagement of the Honorable mentions are given as well, and consideration is being given to expanding the categories to allow for additional highlighting of achievement in specific areas such as Research, Governance, Regional Conference Planning, or Curriculum Expansion.