By Dirk Hoffman
Published March 6, 2023
The medical school’s various hospital partners offered free breakfasts, snacks and prizes to residents and fellows on Friday, Feb. 24, the date of the national Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) celebration.
The University at Buffalo’s Richard Sarkin Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter, one of only 13 GHHS resident chapters in the entire country, sponsored the local celebrations for the school’s more than 900 residents and fellows.
“Residents and fellows play a vital role in the Western New York health care system. They are devoted and humanistic clinicians,” says Gregory S. Cherr, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education, who oversees residency training in more than 70 programs sponsored by the Jacobs School in affiliated hospitals.
“They also perform research, advocate for health-equity and social justice, work to improve the quality of patient care, and educate the other members of their health-care teams,” he adds. “Each day, I see evidence of the humanistic, patient- and family-centered care provided by our residents and fellows.
“I think it's important to have one day each year when we can come together as a community and collectively say ‘thanks’ to our UB residents and fellows.”
Shannon M. Schmit, MD, a PGY-4 chief resident in the internal medicine and pediatrics residency program, says she “honestly feels the residents are the heart of the Jacobs School and the Buffalo medical community.”
“We are the ones there in the early morning hours to the late-night hours, 24-7, taking care of Buffalo’s sickest patients,” she says.
“Despite having so many different programs at the Jacobs School, I feel like the residents really come together and work as a team,” Schmit says.
Brian Dinerman, MD, a fourth-year trainee in the urology residency program, appreciates the camaraderie.
“Residency is an emotional rollercoaster where many trainees are separated from their families for years in order to become trained in their desired specialties of medicine,” he says.
“If it wasn’t for our co-residents serving as our close friends, confidants and surrogate family members, I don’t know how we could do it,” Dinerman adds. “The Jacobs School group of residents is special.”
Shannon R. Oram, MD, a first-year trainee in the obstetrics and gynecology residency program, says she feels like her co-residents always have her back.
“My senior residents have been instrumental in the development of my skills thus far, both in the operating room and with my critical thinking and management of our patients,” she says. “We all lean on each other when we have difficult days and celebrate each other’s little wins.”
Susan M. Orrange, MEd, PhD, assistant dean for education and resident services in the Jacobs School’s Office of Graduate Medical Education, says participating in the Gold Foundation’s Thank a Resident Week is the “perfect opportunity to celebrate the big and small things our residents and fellows do every day.
“They are not only providing excellent patient care, but also serving as valuable resources for medical students and each other,” she says. “Residents and fellows teach medical students, model professional behavior and offer support when times get tough.”
Schmit, the medicine-pediatrics chief resident, says one of the best parts of her job is “mentoring medical students — fostering the new student doctors that are coming through and working with us.
“I find we are relatable to them because we were just in their shoes a few years ago,” she says. “They look up to us for guidance in several areas — during rotations, test-taking strategies, or career advice.
“They are one of my favorite groups to work with because they are energetic and love to learn. They bring a lot of reminders of things we learned in medical school to help us take care of patients,” Schmit says. “They are very forward-thinking. They like to see change and like to improve things, so they bring those aspects to the clinical realm.”
Orrange says taking time to show appreciation for residents and fellows is important.
“Residents and fellows are especially busy balancing their roles as both learners and employees, and it can be hard to take a moment to reflect on what brings them joy,” she says.
“Having this week helps us celebrate the remarkable teachers, clinicians, and people that they are.”