Friday, February 17, 2017

USA Gold Humanism Honor Society Members Participate in Solidarity Week

University of South Alabama fourth-year medical student and GHHS member Emily Spurlin hangs a "Tell Me More" poster in a patient's room at USA Children's and Women's Hospital.
The Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society’s (GHHS) Solidarity Week for compassionate patient care was held Feb. 13-17, 2017. The University of South Alabama College of Medicine chapter of GHHS participated in several activities to remind students and employees of the importance of compassion in medicine.

“As health care providers, having compassion for our patients’ situations is paramount to providing good patient care and drives our mission to alleviate suffering,” said Emily Spurlin, a fourth-year medical student and GHHS member at the USA College of Medicine. “It can be easy to focus on the medical details of a patient’s illness, but it does not matter if you cannot connect with the patient and establish a plan for diagnosis and treatments, taking into account a patient’s experiences and values.”

Solidarity Week is focused on encouraging medical schools and patient care facilities around the country to show the importance of kindness to patients. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, GHHS members participated in the “Tell Me More” campaign. After obtaining consent, medical students asked patients to tell them unique information about themselves.

After patients answered questions about their strengths, how friends would describe them, and what is meaningful to them, the students crafted a poster to present to the patients. The posters were placed above their bed to showcase information like their favorite movies, nicknames or hobbies.

Jelaina Scott, a fourth-year medical student, discussed the many positive aspects of Solidarity Week and its impact on students, patients and medical staff.  “Patients understand that we care about who they are, not just the disease they have,” Scott said. “Health care providers benefit because Solidarity Week gives them a chance to learn more about their patients and helps them better connect, while also providing an opportunity for staff to feel appreciated for everything they do for the patients and the hospital.”

“We have the opportunity to show patients that we value and appreciate the attributes that make them unique as individuals,” added fourth-year medical student Brian McGrath.

McGrath visited with Kimberly Crowell, who lit up when she saw doctors walk in her room with her poster. “This made my day,” Crowell said.

Corwin McGee, a fourth-year medical student and president of GHHS at USA, said that Solidarity Week renews his interest in getting to know patients. “Solidarity Week puts things into perspective by making me think about how I would want members of my family to be treated if they were under our care,” he said.

This year, rising senior members were able to participate in Solidarity Week for the first time. “We decided to let third-year students participate in Solidarity Week so they would have an idea of the work that goes into such an important yearly event,” said Karen Braswell, USA GHHS chapter advisor and coordinator of clinical education at the USA College of Medicine.

Ashton Todd, a third-year medical student, learned more about the value of spending time with young patients during Solidarity Week. “Solidarity Week has shown me that it only takes little gestures to show people who you work with every day that they are appreciated,” she said.

Todd was able to spend time with 8-year-old patient Keaziah Frazier at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital during the Tell Me More campaign, which she said brought them closer as patient and healthcare provider. “I was able to get to know her by asking questions like her favorite color and favorite sport,” Todd said. “I was so overjoyed to see her enthusiasm and appreciation.”

Spurlin, who also participated in the Tell Me More campaign at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, said the patients had the "most remarkable attitudes." "To see them smile as we talked about their posters was amazing.”

GHHS students are committed to practicing compassion in health care far beyond Solidarity Week. “After this week, I will take with me a renewed enthusiasm for engaging my patients on a deeper level in order to make their care as centered on their needs as possible,” McGrath said.

Tuesday, GHHS members distributed candy, crackers and granola bars at nursing stations to show their appreciation to staff members. “The hospital could not run without the hard work of the entire hospital staff,” McGee said.

Later that week, GHHS members distributed Krispy Kreme doughnuts to residents and handed out thank-you cards to healthcare workers who have gone the extra mile.

Warren Greene, assistant administrator of USA Health, thanked students for participating in “such a fantastic project.” “Remember to continue to show compassion in health care in your future endeavors,” he said. “This project is greatly appreciated and truly makes a difference.”

The national Gold Humanism Honor Society office established National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Care in 2011 to highlight the nation-wide movement promoting provider-patient relationships based on caring, personalization and mutual respect. Momentum gathered particularly after the Senate passed a resolution in 2013 and 2014 to officially recognize Solidarity Day on the national calendar, and it is now typically celebrated on or around Valentine’s Day.

Click here to view more photos from Solidarity Week at USA.

To learn more about Solidarity Week, click here. Share your own posts and photos using the hashtag #SolidarityWeek.

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