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UB Tapped to Pilot Humanism Chapter for Residents, Fellows

Colleen Nugent and Dan Sheehan

Colleen Nugent, MD, and Daniel Sheehan, MD, are advising UB’s new chapter of a national honor society that promotes humanism among medical residents and fellows.

Published August 2, 2012

UB is one of just 10 institutions nationwide chosen by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to create a pilot chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) for medical residents and fellows.

“This new chapter is a way of bringing together physicians in Buffalo to support and infuse humanism across all levels of medical training in our hospitals.”
Daniel Sheehan, MD
Clinical associate professor of pediatrics

Fostering Humanism During Stressful Training

The new chapter will promote and nurture humanism during one of the most stressful phases in a physician’s career, explains its co-advisor.

“During residency and fellowship, humanism is not always formally on the table,” says Daniel Sheehan, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics and a pediatric pulmonologist at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

“It’s an incredibly intense period during which these trainees may have 80-hour work weeks, mostly in patient care. It’s often the first time that they feel the full responsibility and stress of practicing medicine with great potential for burnout.”

To counteract what Sheehan calls “the attrition of humanism” that can occur during medical training, the chapter will develop a network of compassionate care health care providers—including faculty and other residents and fellows—who can support their colleagues.

“This new chapter is a way of bringing together physicians in Buffalo to support and infuse humanism across all levels of medical training in our hospitals,” he says.

Recognizing Chapter Inductees for Compassionate Care

Each year, the chapter will select and induct 30 medical residents and fellows from the almost 800 training at UB. New inductees will be honored for their commitment to providing excellent, compassionate care as well as their dedication to patients and families.

They will be able to apply for small grants for projects to foster humanism in their training programs and hospitals.

Website on Humanism in Medical Education Underway

In addition to the new chapter, a UB Graduate Medical Education website on humanism in medical education is under development. It will provide a database of UB speakers on humanism as well as links to local and national humanism grant opportunities and other humanism sites on the Web.

Workshops for residents and fellows on humanism topics, such as wellness and mindfulness in medicine, also are being created.

“We’re hoping these efforts will help residents serve as role models who can support their peers and medical students and help keep care and compassion in the culture as they go through their training,” says Sheehan. “That’s the heart of medicine.”

Expanding on Humanism Tradition in Medical School

The new chapter builds on an established GHHS tradition at UB.

The Richard Sarkin/Emeritus Faculty chapter, founded in 2005, annually recognizes UB medical students and faculty members who have dedicated themselves to practicing medicine humanistically.

Schoolwide Collaboration among Education Leaders

Colleen Nugent, MD, UB pediatric gastroenterology fellow, will serve as the new chapter’s co-advisor with Sheehan.

They will be supported by UB faculty and emeritus faculty, including Leonard A. Katz, MD, professor emeritus; Gregory Cherr, MD, associate professor of surgery; Diana G. Wilkins, MD, assistant director of residency education in the Department of Family Medicine; Susan Orrange, M.Ed, graduate medical education director of education and resident services; and Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean of graduate medical education.

David Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, and Sergio Hernandez, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, co-advisors of the UB Gold Humanism Honor Society Student Chapter, also will be involved.

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