Humanism award honors memory of beloved and respected colleague

Third-year surgical resident Tad Kim, M.D., the 2010 Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Humanitarian Award recipient, shares a moment with Dr. Walters' parents Margaretta and Curtis Walters, and last year's honoree Darrell Hunt, M.D., Ph.D., after the award presentation on March 3. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Before an auditorium of mentors, peers and those just beginning their medical careers, Tad Kim, M.D., a third-year surgical resident, was honored on March 3 with the Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Humanitarian Award, reminding all of a core value of medicine – the act of humanism.

The award was created by the University of Florida department of surgery to honor the memory of Dr. Walters’ qualities of compassionate care and selfless dedication to excellence. It is part of the Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Humanitarian Fund, which is used to support humanitarian efforts in surgical education. Kim is the second recipient of the award.

Following a new tradition of having the prior year’s award winner give the distinguished speaker “Humanism in Medicine” lecture, fourth-year surgical resident Darrell L. Hunt, M.D., Ph.D., presented “What Hugh Taught Me about Success.”

“As a guy he didn’t need to be in the front to feel comfortable,” Hunt said, referring to Walters not needing to shine in the spotlight. “Even though he was in the background, many times his impact on our department was great.” Walters was a talented young surgeon who died unexpectedly in 2008.

Hunt, who was inducted into the UF Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society the night before, provided four key lessons he learned from Walters with regards to success and practicing medicine:

– listen to everything around you and take it in

– have an expectation of excellence in everything you do and in how you interact with everyone

– have fun – in a journey full of ups and downs, you need an outlet for fun

– find love – the thing that drives you in any journey you take

George A. Sarosi, M.D., an associate professor of surgery and residency program director, introduced Kim as this year’s Hugh A. Walters Humanitarian Award winner, saying the award is about a sense of understanding, commitment and compassion to patients. The award is voted on by surgical residents, of which he said it is the highest honor to be honored by the people you work with because they have an appreciation for the little things you do.

Upon accepting the award Kim said, “He was an incredible person. This is a great honor.”

Kim, who plans to be a thoracic surgeon, also was inducted into the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s Gold Humanism Honor Society as a medical student at the University of Virginia.

“We give this award to one person, but the goal is to be able to give it to everyone,” concluded Sarosi, as he encouraged all in attendance to embrace the compassionate, caring side of medicine.