Sixteen OUWB medical students inducted into Gold Humanism Honor Society
An image of the Gold Humanism inductees
Sixteen OUWB students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the 9th Annual Faircloth Evening of Medical Humanism on March 13, 2023.

A celebration of a shared commitment to humanism and service to others was held Monday — an event that culminated with 16 OUWB students inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The 9th Annual Faircloth Evening of Medical Humanism was attended by more than 100, both in-person on the campus of Oakland University and online.

The event is co-sponsored by OUWB and Oakland University School of Education and Human Services and includes induction of OUWB medical students into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), presentation of awards to students from the Department of Counseling, and recognition of recipients of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.

The evening is dedicated to Patrick Faircloth, Ph.D., an Oakland University alumnus, who created an endowment for OUWB and SEHS to ensure that students study communications and interpersonal skills as part of their training to be compassionate physicians.

Duane Mezwa, M.D., Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, welcomed the audience.

“The Faircloth Lecture is a notable event because it allows us to celebrate a shared commitment to humanism and service to others, be they our patients, clients, students, or colleagues,” he said.

“It is also an evening where we celebrate those students and medical professionals who are exemplars of humanism, which is at the core of our founding OUWB culture.”

Several officials from Oakland University and Corewell Health were in attendance, including Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., president, Oakland University, and Ben Schwartz, M.D., president, Corewell Health East.

“Humanism in medicine is really important to me,” said Schwartz. “To hear students celebrate each other and faculty for humanism is something that’s very special about this school. I feel like it’s so badly needed right now, and it’s wonderful to be part of that.”

‘Really grateful’

An image of students presenting during the OUWB Faircloth event
From left, Yousef Ibrahim, Charlene Hsia, and Abiba Salahou.

Jason Wasserman, Ph.D., professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies and Department of Pediatrics, OUWB — and Faircloth coordinator — introduced the executive leadership team of OUWB’s Gold Humanism Honor Society chapter. They are M4s Charlene Hsia, Yousef Ibrahim, and Abiba Salahou — all inducted into GHHS in 2022.

Hsia explained that Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is a community of medical students, physicians, and other leaders who have been selected by their peers for their compassionate care and humanistic characteristics.

“GHHS reinforces and supports the importance of the human connection in health care, which is essential for the health of patients and also for clinicians,” she said

An image showing the names of the Gold Humanism studentsInductees are first nominated by their peers. Of those, the top 30% are asked to submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member along with a personal statement describing how they carry humanism in their patient interactions, and their commitment to diversity and equity and supporting their communities.

Applications are then completely blinded and scored by three different e-board members. Scores and applications go through one last review before the final inductees are selected, said Hsia.

“I’m incredibly honored,” said Prasun Sharma, M3. “To be nominated by our classmates…and then to be picked for induction. Obviously, this is not the reason why we do what we do, but it still feels special to be recognized.”

Sharma added that he plans to continue practicing the very things that helped him get inducted, “into my profession, and the rest of my life.”

Marvee Espiritu, M3, was another inductee and said she felt grateful.

“It’s such an honor to receive this recognition,” she said. “Patient care has always been my priority and just to be recognized for it is incredible.”

Fellow inductee Divyani Patel, M3, echoed similar sentiments.

“I’m just really grateful to be with a group of students I know have worked really hard…who are so empathetic to their patients and I know will be really great doctors,” she said. “It’s really an honor to be recognized amongst the rest of the students that were part of the event.”

The impact of COVID

The Faircloth Evening of Medical Humanism always features a keynote speaker.

This year’s was Amie Archibald-Varley, R.N., co-host of "The Gritty Nurse" podcast, director of multimedia at CanadiEM, and anti-racism and health equity activist. She is currently a quality and patient safety specialist for emergency services. Archibald-Varley lives, works, and podcasts from near Toronto.

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Her presentation was called “COVID, Burnout and Healthcare: Building Resilience and Responding to Crisis Among Healthcare Workers.”

“Over the past few years, the pandemic has left all of our tanks on empty,” she said. “Many folks in health care have been feeling frustrated, (and) burned out.”

Archibald-Varley said she has talked with many who have left health care as a result.

However, she said the pandemic also has created many positive opportunities for change. The purpose of her presentation was to inspire the audience to be part of the change by providing them with tools they can use to avoid burning out in their personal and professional lives.

Among other things, Archibald-Varley talked about the importance of interpersonal support to human resilience.

“We have to examine those system factors affecting individual well-being and resilience and makes systems that build and foster resilience,” she said.

She also reminded audience members about the importance of taking care of their own mental health.

“We’re good at caring for other others, but not really great at caring for ourselves,” she said. “Make sure you recognize the symptoms within yourself when you need help.”

Signs, she said, could include running late on assignments, not making it a priority to spend time with friends, and overwhelming tiredness or sadness.  

She also stressed that when people feel this way, they might feel “broken.”

That’s where the importance of reaching out for help comes in.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” said Archibald-Varley. “There is help out there.”

If you are in a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.