Good will hunting

“Mentorship is not simple,” said Stephen Bergman, M.D., the keynote speaker of the seventh annual Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society banquet. “If it’s working, new information is shared and awareness across generations occurs.”

The society members believe that the mentoring process helps medical students and doctors maintain their perspective.

At the March 3 event, held at the Paramount Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Bergman, who writes under the pen name Samuel Shem, recalled meeting doctors Arnold and Sandra Gold, the founders of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Sandra Gold, Ed.D., approached Bergman after a speech where he said he could tell the difference between third-year medical students and first- and second-year medical students “just by the way they walk around.” She was impressed with the notion that third-year students, having had their first clinical experience, are – or should be – visibly affected.

By Bergman’s account, it was this realization from which the humanism piece of the Golds’ program was born.

“In 2002, when the Chapman Chapter was founded, it solidified the College’s commitment to integrate the fundamentals of humanism and professionalism through the curriculum in physician training,” said Dr. Michael L. Good, interim dean of the UF College of Medicine.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mrs. Annie Lou Chapman for helping us maintain that crucial balance between science and art through the example of her husband, Dr. Jules B. Chapman.”

On behalf of Mrs. Chapman, society scholar and fourth-year medical student John Martino congratulated his classmates, residents and faculty who were inducted that evening. “She simply said, ‘My heart is with you and I regret I cannot be there.’ ”

Before Robert T. Watson, M.D., the former senior associate dean for educational affairs, announced the winners of the prestigious Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine awards, he took a moment to remember the late surgical resident Hugh A. Walters, M.D. Walters was killed in May last year when the SUV he was driving hit a culvert and rolled over. Watson read sentiments from Walters’ parents.

“You can be assured that out hearts and minds will be with you (this evening),” he said. “We can say that, without a doubt, the personnel with the department of surgery and the College of Medicine have been like a family to us.”

“Big Hugh,” “Baby Hugh” and “Huge Walters” were how his friends, fellow students and professors knew him. At this point in the evening, a strong human connection lingered in the air with the remembrance and absence of the promising, young surgeon.

On the tables were several red roses and copies of a mentorship booklet prepared in part by Kavita Rajasekhar, the fourth-year student presented with the Leonard Tow award.

“I truly believe that mentors can come in different forms: family, friends, teachers, nature, art, daily interactions… even pets,” she said.

Rajasekhar worked with Chapman advisers to create the book, which features student accounts of their mentor-mentee relationships.

“I think (the book) is a great way to say ‘thank you’ to these people,” said Rajasekhar.

The Leonard Tow award was named after the self-made philanthropist who earned both his master’s degree and doctorate while working as an educator at Hunter College in New York. The award is presented to the student and faculty member who best demonstrate the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, respect for patients, their families, and health-care colleagues, as well as demonstrate clinical excellence.

Dr. Maureen Novak was presented with the Leonard Tow faculty award that evening.

“I am a tapestry of all those who have taught me years ago and now, and those I have taught,” Novak said.

“It is just as important for the University of Florida to prepare our medical students for the arts and compassion and the human components as it is for us to prepare them for the science,” Good said, closing the evening. “Patients don’t know about these activities. They only know how they are treated.”

Congratulations to the 2008-2009 inductees:

Maureen Novak, M.D.
Michelle Rossi, M.D.

Erin Cannington, M.D.
Michael Connor, M.D.
Sean Kiley, M.D.
Siva Suryadevara, M.D.
Miguel Tepedino, M.D.
Klark Turpen, M.D.

Medical Students
Erica Acosta Bartlet
Casey Justin Beal
Richard Douglas Beegle, II
Michael Dell Black
W. Kevin Conley, II
Katherine Corbyons
Lindsey Evans
Brie Michele Folkner
Sherita Lynn Holmes
Chanley Howell Dudley
Grace Hsu
Christyn Francesca Magill
Lindsay Malloch
Ryan Wesley Nall
Mark Wilson Newman
Deirdre Pachman
Kavita Rajasekhar
Jeff Sellman
Ilicia Shugarman
Irving Jose Zamora