Pritzker students selected by peers for humanism awards

February 15, 2008

The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine will recognize 18 fourth-year students on March 4 at the Third Annual Gold Humanism Honor Society Induction Ceremony

The event will include keynote speaker Michael Mendoza (AB'96, MD'01), Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine.

In summer 2007, rising fourth-year medical students were asked to identify "classmates you would want as the doctor for yourself or a loved one" and those "you would like to have work at your side in a medical emergency."

After the results were tallied in September, the fourth years learned that their peers had selected them for the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The society only inducts fourth-year students, making it difficult to spread the word about humanism in medicine once they graduate, said Mindy Schwartz, Associate Professor of Medicine and chapter adviser. But, she added, "we're developing a critical mass on campus," noting that as some alumni have become residents at Chicago, they're increasing campus awareness of the organization.

The Gold Humanism Honor Society has approximately 50 member chapters at medical schools across the country. The University of Chicago began its chapter in 2004.

The organization's founder, pediatric neurologist Arnold Gold, was concerned that medical students "were trained exceptionally well in science, but had lost some of that caring," Schwartz said.

"The pressures in medicine for productivity and reimbursement have distracted people from the fundamental mission of what medicine is all about, which is helping people," she said. "It's so important to identify individuals who celebrate the humanistic tradition automatically and intuitively."

The event also will honor Kevin Roggin, Assistant Professor of Surgery, and David Beckmann, a graduating Pritzker student, with Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine awards and six residents chosen by medical students for Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Inductees will pin each other at the ceremony, which begins at 6 p.m. in Bond Chapel. A reception will follow in the Quadrangle Club.

"The evening," Schwartz said, "will be about celebrating the almost spiritual journey in medicine that we are sharing now."

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