Faculty celebrates compassion while welcoming students to the hospital wards

Students, residents and faculty members spend an evening honouring tradition as new academic year approaches

Amy Hewko - 23 August 2013

Days before welcoming a new class to the lecture halls, the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry welcomed students onto the hospital wards and honoured residents and faculty members for their humanism and teaching excellence.

D. Douglas Miller, dean of the Faculty, opened the presentation by reminding students of the importance and tradition symbolized by their white coats. Third-year students receive their white coats during the Student Clinician Ceremony that marks the transition into the clinical years of medical school.

"We often call this the white coat ceremony. It marks the start of a new clinician responsibility, and also signals the responsibility of keeping your white coat white," he said. "This event reminds us all of the sacred trust of the patient-physician relationship. It's the feeling I had putting this very coat on in the clinic in the Mazankowski last week. It's the look of confidence that I saw in the eyes of my patients upon entering the exam room wearing this white coat. This is my white coat, these are your white coats. They are powerful symbols of training and trust."

The evening continued with Laurie Mereu, the U of A Chapter Advisor to the Gold Humanism Honor Society, presenting the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty Award to Bruce Ritchie, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine. The annual award is given to a single faculty member for a high standard of clinical excellence, compassion in delivery of care, and respect for colleagues, patients and their families.

In his keynote speech, Ritchie recounted how his life and career had been impacted by his speciality in hematology, the development of technology in medicine and inspirational patients.

"Treat people like people. Shake people's hands. Pat them on the back. Just be personable with them," he told the class of 2015. "When I first started working with patients with HIV and hepatitis C, they felt untouchable. They felt nobody would come near them. When I shook their hand, they hugely appreciated it. And they told me."

Seven faculty members were also honoured with Excellence in Humanism Awards from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, while six residents were presented with Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

With fresh reminders of the humility and compassion required in the hospital wards, the class of 2015 stood to don their own white coats. Angelo Gunanayagam, the class representative, led the recitation of the Student Pledge of Conduct as their families, educators and future colleagues watched. Each student also received a pin to serve as a reminder to live by the motto "to cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always."

Winners of the Excellence in Humanism Awards (Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry):

  • Vince Bain
    Division of Gastroenterology
  • Ron Damant
    Division of Pulmonary Medicine
  • Gordon Lees
    Department of Surgery
  • Rabin Persad
    Department of Pediatrics
  • William Sevcik
    Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Man-Joe Watt
    Department of Pediatrics
  • Beverly Wilson
    Department of Pediatrics

Winners of the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards (Gold Humanism Honor Society):

  • Enrica Tse
    Fifth-year resident, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
  • Stephanie Moffat
    Third-year resident, Department of Psychiatry
  • David LeBaron
    Third- year resident, Department of Psychiatry
  • Erin Will
    Third-year resident, Department of Psychiatry
  • Laura Weingarten
    Fourth-year resident, Department of Pediatrics
  • Angie Ip
    Fourth-year resident, Department of Pediatrics