Gold Foundation Essay

The inductees hope to reignite the passion for humanism in those where it may have become lost and to keep it always burning for others.This past November, twenty-three students from the class of 2015 were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Miriam Schechter, a pediatrician at Montefiore Medical Center’s Comprehensive Family Care Center and co-clerkship director for the third-year pediatrics rotation, was selected by the students to receive the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award and induction into the society for her selfless dedication to patients, families and students.

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A harrowing whistle of pain escaped his lips and wove its course to my unready ears, triggering within me a stream of sorrowful thoughts.

And when I thought I could bear/ no more, his piercing eyes met my own and willfully divulged the wealth of suffering contained within.

It grieved me to witness this man’s skirmish with life and fear that he might perish right before me.

Though he clearly had not bathed for a prolonged period of time, I stood beside him, wishing I could do something——to help this poor man but unsure of what I could add medically beyond what the team was already doing.

I am humbled to be part of a tradition of humanism at Einstein, which constantly pushes students to delve more deeply into their experiences—and into themselves.

Medical students are selected by their peers through a survey given at the end of the third year of clinical instruction.She was a small woman, unimposing, and yet her cordial affect was such that one could not help but feel a sense of camaraderie and ease after even the smallest of interactions.Over the course of our weeks together, she introduced me to the life and obligations of a palliative care provider.I had taken the rotation as part of an elective track, hoping to see firsthand what medical care looked like at the end of life.It was here that I met Lauren Johnson, the nurse practitioner who cochaired the team and served as my mentor during the experience.Students are asked to choose classmates who exemplify empathy in interactions with patients and colleagues, who have worked to improve healthcare systems and upon whom they would want to rely for their own personal medical care or in a medical emergency.Students with the most votes are nominated for induction into the society and asked to compose an essay detailing an experience in which their humanism was challenged.I am grateful for having had a part in caring for the patient I described earlier and for having received his recognition, however brief, for my efforts.Though I do not expect acknowledgment from my patients, I am thankful for the snippets of gratitude that are expressed, for they serve to inspire me further in delivering quality care.She taught me the rationale behind using various opiates in pain management, highlighted the balancing act between pursuing treatment and ensuring quality of life, and discussed the ethical considerations in alleviating suffering.My mind struggled to keep up with a laundry list of painkillers, sedatives, antinausea drugs, and other medications used to bring relief to the terminally ill, but my repertoire as a practitioner grew daily as a result. Johnson impressed upon me, however, was not merely her expertise in juggling medications; it was her uncanny ability to perceive her patients as human beings.


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