Gold Humanism Honor Society Induction Address

 

This society, this nomination speaks to the true heart of medicine.  Speaks to the true meaning and purpose of the work we all do.  In every office, in every hallway and every hospital ward. This society honors the patience, persistence, and perspectives of compassion.  Honors the subtle and sometimes underappreciated art of empathic caregiving and of healing.  Honors the value in the connection forged between two human lives and between two human stories.  

The truth is, all of the individuals nominated into this society have their own stories, their own journeys and their own experiences in the gifts of compassionately caring for other people.  These stories matter.  These stories matter deeply.   All of my colleagues have chosen to embrace humanity and celebrate the leveling beauty of walking with another person on their own journey – of illness, of recovery, of loss, of grief, or tragedy.   Have chosen to celebrate in the innately human story by owning true to the core identity of the calling – to heal those that are suffering.  I commend, support, admire and encourage all of this work.   The work of embracing humanity. 

I am fond of encouraging young professionals not to let medicine pilfer away their humanity.  Not to let complacency dictate to a presumed status quo.  Not to let pathways, policies or procedures rob away the soul of humanities greatest calling.  Not to let the extraordinary become routine.  The triage to become transcribed, the responses to become rote, or the rounds to become rehearsed.  The true art of empathic healing lies in a simple premise.  Do not go searching for something you already possess.  Simply hold on, cultivate and let humanity flourish in your own work, your own lives and defiantly refuse to surrender any portion of it.

It does not mean this work is easy.  In fact, it can be quite difficult.  As times goes on in all of our careers, we are all tempted to punch the clock, rehearse the lines, and distance ourselves away from the radiance of our patient’s and colleagues lived experiences.  Out of self-preservation, out of fatigue, obstacles, hoops, deadlines or expectations.  In conquering the counter-intuitive, the taught, and the developed, those that choose empathy, compassion will find a deeper meaning and purpose in the work itself.  Yet, the fear persists.  The fear of vulnerability, of exhaustion, of difficulty in finding healthy separation.   Do not be persuaded.  Be resilient in the compassion that exists in all of us because sometimes, as Marianne Williamson once said, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”.

When we embrace the power of empathy, of our own compassion we can move mountains of suffering.  This light, our power changes the world – day by day in every blessed encounter.  This philosophy lays the platform for healing.  Not just for our patients but for our friends and colleagues.   When we share in the stories of our patients and colleagues we discover that we are not alone.  This transcendent message is self-sustaining and fills up our own wells of gratitude.  Allows us to discover the purpose of the work, the meaning and the impact. 

                                                                                  - Adam B. Hill, M.D.