Inaugural event stresses importance of compassionate medicine

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In an effort to educate health professions students about the importance of compassionate care in medicine, the Marshall University and West Virginia University schools of medicine today hosted the inaugural Gold Humanism Educational Summit at the Cultural Center in Charleston.

The event kicked off a week-long observance of Gold Humanism Week recognized by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in a proclamation issued at the State Capitol prior to the summit.

Organizers say the educational summit allows medical, nursing, physical therapy, and pharmacy students to learn the essentials of delivering compassionate and patient-centered care from practicing health professionals.

“Studies show that patients heal quickly when healthcare providers take time to know them,” Darshana Shah, Ph.D., founding faculty advisor to the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) chapter at Marshall and recipient of a Gold Foundation grant to host the collaborative summit, said. “Keeping the balance between scientific knowledge and humanistic attitude is the key to providing quality care. This summit is intended to inspire participants and remind them of the value of humanism, while encouraging them to continue its promotion.”

“Our chapter was established in 2008 to recognize members of our learning community who are exemplars of humanistic qualities in caring for patients,” said Norman D. Ferrari III, M.D., vice dean for education and academic affairs, professor and chair of the WVU Department of Medical Education, and founding faculty member of the GHHS chapter at WVU. “We are most pleased to partner with our colleagues from Marshall University this year in having a statewide celebration and educational conference showcasing the ideals of the Gold Foundation and its support of humanism in medicine.”

Medical students at WVU and Marshall are selected for inclusion in GHHS based on practicing patient-centered medical care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, and empathy. Medical residents, faculty, and administrators may also be recognized.

“My main vision for the Gold Humanism Educational Summit was to unite healthcare professionals across the state to recognize the importance of compassion when caring for patients,” Keri Geronilla, member of the WVU School of Medicine Class of 2014 and liaison for the WVU GHHS chapter, said.

“I wanted a session that can demonstrate how West Virginia’s healthcare providers value the connection with their patients and stories because that is what can continually motivate us in our careers. At its essence, medicine is simply one human being caring for another. Because medicine is both a science and an art, to be effective healthcare professionals we have to not only practice cutting-edge medicine but also utilize skills of communication, empathy, and compassion.”

GHHS is an international initiative of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which works to improve healing and healthcare outcomes by restoring the balance between the cutting-edge science of medicine and compassionate, patient-centered care.

For a complete listing of topics and speakers for the Educational Summit, visit the event site at

For More Information from Marshall University:
Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Marshall University Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713,

For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, WVU Healthcare and Health Sciences, 304-293-7087
lcp/tds: 01-31-14