Enter your Email address:
Wolters Kluwer Health may email you for journal alerts and information, but is committed
to maintaining your privacy and will not share your personal information without
You currently have no recent searches
Fifth-year MD/MS student, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; firstname.lastname@example.org.
I congratulate Rosenthal et al1 on designing what appears to be a valuable contribution to efforts to preserve empathy in third-year medical students. I was especially intrigued by their finding that in the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School class of 2010, students' knowledge that they had been selected for the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) seemed to significantly raise their scores on the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy Medical Student Version (JSPE-MS). Those students, following the completion of clerkships but prior to notification of GHHS selection, had scored nearly identically on the JSPE-MS as the non-GHHS students, and their empathy levels had, in fact, eroded much more over the course of the year than had those of the non-GHHS students. We are therefore left to conclude that GHHS selection in and of itself increased empathy.
If that's the case, it's rather ironic; one would hope that in order to inculcate empathy in medical students, we wouldn't have to tell them that they're better than their peers in some way. Yet that's essentially what the exclusivity of honor societies does.
It seems to me that having any kind of honor society to recognize and promote humanism runs counter to the ideals enshrined in the concept. When I think of humanism, I think of inclusiveness and an appreciation of each individual's unique strengths and abilities, not a questionnaire-based selection process of peers whom one may or may not actually know or have observed working with patients. What this study tells me is that labeling some medical students as “humanists” and others as not engenders empathy in the chosen few but has unknown effects on the undistinguished many. Yet the few and the many will together graduate as physicians, so we need to leave honor societies behind as we advance empathy for all.
© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges
Colleague's E-mail is Invalid
Your Name: (optional)
Separate multiple e-mails with a (;).
Thought you might appreciate this item(s) I saw at Academic Medicine.
Send a copy to your email
Your message has been successfully sent to your colleague.
Some error has occurred while processing your request. Please try after some time.
An Existing Folder
A New Folder
The item(s) has been successfully added to "".
Login with your LWW Journals username and password.
Username or Email:
Enter and submit the email address you registered with. An email with instructions to reset your password will be sent to that address.
Link to reset your password has been sent to specified email address.
What does "Remember me" mean?
By checking this box, you'll stay logged in until you logout. You'll get easier access to your articles, collections,
media, and all your other content, even if you close your browser or shut down your
To protect your most sensitive data and activities (like changing your password),
we'll ask you to re-enter your password when you access these services.
What if I'm on a computer that I share with others?
If you're using a public computer or you share this computer with others, we recommend
that you uncheck the "Remember me" box.
Save my selection
Article Level Metrics