Members of the University of South Alabama chapter of the Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society paid special visits to patients and hospital staff last week as part of Solidarity Week.
By Carol McPhail
Members of the University of South Alabama chapter of the Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society paid special visits to patients and hospital staff last week as part of Solidarity Week, a national initiative designed to remind students and healthcare employees of the importance of compassion in medicine.
“Solidarity Week allows us to place the focus on getting to know our patients better as well as showing gratitude to the unsung heroes of USA Health,” said Destini A. Smith, a fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine who serves as secretary/treasurer of the chapter. “Sometimes, we focus so much on the patient’s clinical problem that we forget about the patient.”
On Friday, GHHS members hand-delivered red gift baskets to nursing stations, and thank-you notes to faculty and staff at the hospitals. Smith said the activity recognizes the importance of teamwork in healthcare. “We sometimes take other members of the healthcare team for granted, though the physician is not the only one caring for the patient,” she said.
Two Solidarity Week initiatives, “Tell Me More” and “Doctors Should,” encouraged students to engage patients in meaningful conversations. Under “Tell Me More,” the students talked with patients about what matters most to them rather than why they are in the hospital. With “Doctors Should,” the students sought suggestions from patients on how physicians can practice more compassionate care. The ideas were written on sticky notes and placed on posters to display in physician lounges.
“These events are important because they remind physicians and students that the patients are more than just an illness that brings them to the hospital,” said T.J. Hundley, M.D., associate dean for medical education and chapter advisor. “They are people with families, jobs, hobbies and much more. Effective care involves more than just selecting tests and choosing treatments. It involves empathy, understanding and kindness.”
Solidarity Week activities also focus on wellness for medical students. GHHS chapter members created posters for second-year medical students to wish them good luck on the Step 1 exam and to remind them that they are never alone on their journey. Another new activity was Humanistic BINGO, in which students participate in tasks related to compassion and self-care to complete a five-in-a-row BINGO and compete to win a drawing. This year’s winners were second-year medical student Michelle Nguyen and first-year medical student Kasey Grant.
The national Gold Humanism Honor Society established National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Care in 2011 to highlight the nationwide movement promoting provider-patient relationships based on caring, personalization and mutual respect. Solidarity Day was expanded to Solidarity Week in 2016.
See more photos from Solidarity Week on Flickr.