Published June 1, 2022
The induction of Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences medical students, residents, fellows and faculty into UB’s Richard Sarkin Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) provided an opportunity to shine a light on countless acts of compassion.
The society is a program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that strives to elevate the values of humanism and professionalism in medicine worldwide. It has 185 chapters around the world and more than 45,000 members.
UB’s more than 800 residents and fellows may nominate their peers into induction into a branch of the UB chapter, which is one of only 14 graduate medical education sections nationally that is affiliated with the society.
GHHS provides small grants that support creative projects that infuse and support humanism in training programs and hospitals.
The local chapter is named in memory of Richard T. Sarkin, MD, EdM ’98, who was an associate professor of clinical pediatrics known for his teaching expertise and passion.
“Most importantly, I am a proud member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society,” he said during opening remarks. “I’m also co-adviser for our resident chapter, chair of the Gold Humanism Honor Society National Advisory Council and I sit on the board of directors of the Gold Foundation.“
“I feel like I have a unique perspective on the GHHS goings-on here in Buffalo, as well as around the globe.”
Cherr also said he wanted to comment on the events of the past week in Buffalo where a gunman shot and killed 10 people and wounded three others at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store on Jefferson Avenue.
“It’s been a hard week here in Buffalo where we had a senseless act that was meant to divide us, but we are already seeing it is bringing us closer together,” he said.
“We’ll spend this evening together celebrating the students and physicians whose humanism shines brightly,” Cherr added. “The people who have been working tirelessly to improve the health and welfare of our community and who will continue to lead the efforts to address the most pressing issues facing society — health inequities, structural racism, health literacy, the list goes on.”
Cherr then asked for everyone to join him in a moment of silence “for the 10 people that were murdered, three who were shot and innumerable others who were harmed by this senseless act of hatred.”
Nicholas J. Silvestri, MD, clinical associate professor of neurology and assistant dean for student and academic affairs, is the GHHS chapter co-adviser along with David A. Milling, MD, associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for student and academic affairs.
Silvestri introduced the medical student and faculty inductees, while Cherr introduced the resident and fellow inductees. Each read brief remarks about the inductees’ health care initiatives and read testimonials about their acts of kindness and compassion that led to them being honored.
The following residents and fellows were inducted:
The following Class of 2023 medical students were inducted:
The following Class of 2024 medical students were inducted:
The following faculty members were also inducted:
Fourth-year medical student and GHHS member Blake Kruger, MD, received the Dr. Howard R. Goldstein ’74 Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship.
The annual award provides one-year support for a recent graduate who is selected on the basis of this continuous demonstration and influence of compassion for others and to the community.
Kruger, who matched into a family medicine residency at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, also spoke about the chapter highlights.
Among the projects for the year were:
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, gave a speech titled “Reflections on Humanism.”
“As I look at the list of this year’s inductees and hear their inspirational testimonials, I’m not surprised at all,” she said. “These are individuals who have clearly exemplified compassion, empathy, collaboration, patient-centeredness, and a strong a sense of community … the qualities that are at the heart of humanism in health care.”
Brashear noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the traditional doctor-patient experience, “it became even more important for clinical professionals to find new ways to connect with patients, to continue preserving that human connection that is so important in healing our patients.”
“I like to say that being a physician is much, much more than medical knowledge, or memorizing or getting a good test score,” she said. “It’s really about having moral judgment and actions, a kind attitude, a trusting relationship with patients and their families. It’s about that human connection that makes physicians such trusted messengers.”
Brashear said it is important to step back and take in all the wonderful comments heard about the GHHS inductees.
“That’s what it is about being a physician,” she said. “It’s talking with patients. It’s talking with the families. It’s working as part of a health care team.”
Brashear also said she wanted to reflect on the tragedy that took place in Buffalo and on the victims and their families who were impacted.
“This happened only a mile away from our school and some of our students cared for the victims of this senseless act of hatred and violence,” she said. “This impacted families at our Jacobs School, both staff and faculty.”
“We are here to stand up with them against violence and hatred. We will not forget what happened on May 14 and we are here to commit again our partnership with the community to end this senseless violence.”
As members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, Brashear said the inductees lead by example.
“We are in awe of your commitment and all that you have achieved. I want to give my heartiest congratulations and I am confident that the future of medicine is in excellent hands,” she said. “You lead with compassion, you look out for one another and you continue to foster the art of healing, which is core to medicine.”
“I am heart-warmed by all that you have brought to medicine and our community.”
Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony took place May 19 via videoconference.
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