“There are many ways to analyze the data, and it turned out not to make a difference if we asked for six nominations or only three for each question, or whether or not we weighted the scores based on the order names were written in,” McCormack said. “It always ended up with about the same 15% of students standing out from the rest of the class.”
When the Arnold P. Gold Foundation heard about the UF College of Medicine’s use of the peer nomination survey, the organization asked McCormack to present the team’s findings in 2002. He then worked with the foundation to create a new version of the peer nomination survey to identify exemplars for humanism in medicine, using a list of humanism-centric questions to ask medical students of their peers, such as which classmates best personify the quote, “The secret of good patient care lies in caring for the patient,” and which classmates have shown exceptional interest in service to their communities.
Today, most of the 181 GHHS chapters around the world use a form of the survey to select society members. Students are generally asked to write down the first three classmates who come to mind for each of the six questions. The nominations are then counted, and the highest scorers for a subset of questions are invited to join the honor society.
Twenty-four UF medical students from the class of 2022 were recently inducted into UF’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, the Chapman Society.
“The power of peer evaluation is that students know each other better than faculty ever can, with the amount of time they spend around one another in the classroom, in volunteer activities, socially and most importantly, with patients,” McCormack said.
McCormack, one of a few non-M.D. members of the honor society, said he was excited to work on the survey with colleagues from across the nation. Arnold P. Gold, M.D., the foundation’s namesake, once told him that the society’s growth in the past 20 years could not have happened without him.
“It’s the highest praise I’ve received in my life,” McCormack said.