Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Both the Tucson and Phoenix chapters of the University of Arizona College of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) organized and celebrated the second-annual Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care on Feb. 14.

The national GHHS commemoration was created after the tragic shootings on Jan. 8, 2011 in Tucson.
Building upon last year’s tradition, event participants not only held hands to form a human chain that symbolized solidarity for compassionate patient care, but also filled out cards with names of their peers and colleagues to note kindness.

In addition, GHHS members delivered baskets to units throughout The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus. The baskets contained information about Solidarity Day, ribbons, cards and candies.

Other campus groups contributed to the event. DOC-Apella, a musical group of UA medical students, performed, and poetry was read by representatives from Art Aloud, a program of the UA College of Medicine Program in Medical Humanities.

Two College of Medicine students from the GHHS were very involved in coordinating the event. Natasha Bhuyan and Jessica Lang, both from Phoenix, created new ideas and put them into action.

Bhuyan and Lang explained in the weeks leading up to the event that new elements would make the 2012 Solidarity Day one to remember.

“A new development has occurred in the planning of Solidarity Day. We are now going to have video coverage of the entire event. The GHHS main office in New York is coming to film the day's activities and make a video to use at their 10th-anniversary celebration,” Lang said. “They are planning to interview students, residents and attendings. They want to capture the importance of what GHHS stands for. I am extremely excited to see all of our hard work come to fruition and watch hundreds of people join hands in solidarity and remembrance.”
Bhuyan is the vice president of the GHHS UA chapter. She said she worked in tandem with her fourth-year medical student peers, and also with the College of Medicine faculty and staff.

“The strong support we've received from the UA College of Medicine administration about Solidarity Day shows that compassionate patient care is a priority in our medical education. Although compassion is difficult to teach, it is easy to recognize. I especially love the idea about University of Arizona Medical Center employees writing down how their colleagues practice humanism in medicine. This will show the depth of compassion taking place at UAMC every day,” Bhuyan said. “It's important for health-care workers to understand that sincere empathy and kindness can positively affect a patient's outcome.”

Despite the rain, the event continued as planned. More than 100 attendees moved into the foyer of the College of Medicine to take part in the celebration. Participants included individuals from the Arizona Health Sciences Center community, physicians, nurses, faulty staff and students.

Dr. Andreas Theodorou, MD, UA College of Medicine professor of pediatrics and chief medical officer at The University of Arizona Medical Center, also serves as the faculty advisor to the Arizona GHHS chapter. As a mentor to the honorary, he also participated in Solidarity Day. He said he considered the event a success.

“As a professor at the UA College of Medicine, it is very rewarding to see our students get together to demonstrate the importance of emphasizing the ‘care’ in health care.”

Bhuyan also deemed this event prosperous and motivational.

“The most inspiring part of the Solidarity Day event was hearing about the acts of compassionate patient care that take place every day. For example a physician bringing her patient his favorite meal, a student who sat for several hours with a lonely patient, a nurse who made a birthday card for her patient,” she said. “The presence of the faculty, staff and administration at the event also affirmed that the UA College of Medicine values humanism as an integral part of our educational curriculum. Even if we know every disease process and evidence-based treatment, we cannot be great physicians until we understand how to truly love our patients.”