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Missions of the Society

The Society shall:

  1. Promote humanism and professionalism through various activities on campus and in the community.
  2. Sponsor academic events emphasizing humanism and professionalism.
  3. Undertake community projects.
  4. Assist the Dean in fulfilling the mission, goals and objectives of the School of Medicine.

Gold Humanism Honor Society Call To Action

The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many
other people of color have sparked a national conversation about racism in all of its forms, as
well as the structures that support it. We, the members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society
(GHHS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) keenly recognize the
impact of systemic oppression on the health of our patients and lives of our fellow students of
color. We believe that these clear transgressions to which Black and Brown communities are
subjected are not a matter of opinion or politics, but are largely a matter of humanism and
society’s inability to recognize the humanity of historically oppressed populations. We condemn
these ills and seek to make constructive and thoughtful recommendations for how we can act in
our own communities to contribute to healthcare equity and a more equal society.

Below are our recommendations. They span the areas of (1) community engagement, (2)
medical education, and (3) institutional advocacy and culture. As soon-to-be physician leaders
preparing to enter into an unequal society, we hope this call to action will be met with thoughtful
consideration as we work together towards a society in which all have the right to live healthy

I. Community Engagement

Our medical center exists first and foremost to serve the greater Baltimore community.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary mitigation measures have stressed local businesses
and community programs to the extreme. In light of the national conversations about equity, and
being cognizant of the fact that Baltimore city is greater than 60% Black, it is imperative to find
ways to support local Black-owned and operated establishments. A core component of student
group activities at the UMSOM is lunch talks, historically catered by chain pizza places or
UMB-affiliate caterers. GHHS pledges to cater at least 50% of events from local
Black-owned businesses and we propose that UMSOM student groups do the same.
Extensive lists of such businesses have been compiled by other organizations and we would be
willing to provide student groups with the necessary resources in order to uphold this call to
action. We further pledge to use our platform as an organization to bring attention to
Black-owned businesses in the community through monthly “spotlight” features.

Further, we have an imperative to donate time and energy outside of the classroom to
work within our community to increase our patients’ access to health care and other resources.
We reaffirm our commitment to working with community organizations and contributing to their
missions. Through interactions with organizations like The Jacques Initiative and the Community
Engagement Center, we hope to better understand the needs of the community and use our
platform to help motivate constructive change.

II. Medical Education

It is imperative that medical students receive formal education in health disparities and
social determinants, as well as hear the voices of patients who have experienced systemic racism
and oppression both within and outside the health care system. To this end, we call for the
following additions to the medical curriculum:

1. A patient-driven “clinical correlate” session in the first year of medical school focused on
discrimination and prejudice experienced during interactions with the health care system;

2. A reflection assignment in ICM-1 related to systems-level factors such as “redlining” and
other mechanisms of institutionalized racism that affect the health of our patients;

3. Ensure that preclinical lectures are representative of a diverse patient group so that
students will be prepared to identify and treat ailments (such as dermatologic diseases)
that present differently and/or are more common in patients of color;

4. Inclusion of specialty-specific health disparities information in the orientation session for
each of the third-year clerkships, along with protected discussion time that addresses the
causes and consequences of these disparities.

We also suggest that when implementing these recommendations , community advocates be
included to help address the societal causes of disparities in health.

Further, GHHS proposes to create and administer an optional Literature Club open
to all medical students that will assign readings and host discussions of intersectional topics
related to race, medicine, and the Black experience in America. Selected works will include
narrative fiction, nonfiction, journal articles such as those in the Perspective series in JAMA, and

III. Institutional Advocacy and Culture

GHHS commits to enacting discussions of allyship and unconscious bias during
Solidarity Week programming. We further commit to a longitudinal lunch talk series on
related topics, hosted by members of our institution and others, to provide education on
issues of diversity and inclusion, as well as on the history of Baltimore and the implications
for our patient population today.

We continue to urge the admissions committee, already very committed to diversity and
inclusion, to consider the inequalities in the current physician workforce, as well as the role of
privilege in crafting an application, when vetting candidates for medical school. Defined
commitments to specific proportions of minorities traditionally underrepresented in medicine
would provide worthy goals. We deem it especially important that our student body begin to look
more like the patient populations that we serve.

Similarly, we urge school and hospital leadership to rectify the lack of representation in
faculty and in the leadership itself. To this end, we request the publication of reports about
diversity at all levels of leadership and a departmental breakdown of representation as well
as a specific plan to close any gaps.

Furthermore, we believe that it is imperative that our community as a whole learns how
to support our future doctors of color who have already committed to learning at our institution.
As a result, GHHS commits to extending our resources and collaborating with
organizations such as the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and Latino
Medical Student Association (LMSA) in order to further amplify the voices of students who
are a part of marginalized communities of color.

Hospital and university leaders have done much to improve the reporting mechanisms for
incidents of bias and harassment over the past year. However, misunderstanding remains about
how and when UMMSafe and the UMB Hotline can be used for the reporting of racial bias. We
request more specific information be provided by the reporting sites about how they can be
used for this purpose. In addition, leaders should plan and execute an information
campaign to educate the students and employees on these options so they can make use of

Much of the recent national uproar has been centered on law enforcement’s misdeeds
against Black individuals. We are not naive enough to think ourselves immune to such engrained
trends. As such, we need to take a hard look at our campus police and hospital security to
examine their impact on people in our community. We request that both groups publish
granular data on interactions, arrests, and uses of force that include demographic
information. There are too many stories of painful interactions between people of color and
officers of the law, including police officers and security personnel; we cannot allow our
institution to be part of this inhumanity.

We also call for both the UMB police department and hospital security to publish
their de-escalation policies and ensure proper training and implementation of said policies.
They should both release details of how officers are currently trained and determine what
changes can be made to account for implicit biases and ensure that they understand how to avoid
violence and arrests in tense situations. These plans must not be made by the organizations alone
but instead with the constant input and approval of community members who will be utilizing
our institution and are thus subject to the new policies.

We, the members of GHHS, actively seek out equity and racial justice in our community
and institution. As systemic oppression is an issue of humanity, our organization supports Black
lives and movements such as Black Lives Matter in illuminating and alleviating racial injustice.

In solidarity,

Gold Humanism Honor Society ‘21