Pulitzer Prize Winner Anna Quindlen Advises Physicians to Learn Who Their Patients Are

Lecture on Improving Doctor – Patient Relationships Co-Sponsored by Arnold P. Gold Foundation and The Association of American Medical Colleges

Released: 11/8/2013 3:20 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Arnold P. Gold Foundation
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Newswise — Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 8, November 2013 – On November 3rd, in a lecture hall filled to capacity with almost 1,300 medical school deans, faculty, students and residents, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and bestselling author, Anna Quindlen, spoke about Health Care in an Information Age: How Doctors, Nurses and Consumers Can Make One Another Better. This annual Jordan J. Cohen Humanism in Medicine Thought Leader Session, co -sponsored by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), enthralled the crowd with comments about the changing relationship between doctors and patients and their need to become partners in the healthcare equation.

Research reveals that when doctors and other healthcare professionals practice with respect, integrity, excellence, and compassion, medical outcomes improve, along with patient satisfaction. To reinforce these standards and uphold the intrinsic value of the human side of healthcare, each year The Gold Foundation co-sponsors a Humanism in Medicine Lecture at the AAMC annual meeting. Newly renamed in honor of Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, a champion for compassionate healthcare, former President and CEO of the AAMC and current Chairman of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Board of Trustees, this year’s lecture was the 15th in the series.

In his introduction of Ms. Quindlen, Richard I. Levin, MD, President and CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation said, “Our choice of speaker is a bit different this year. Anna Quindlen is not a physician. She is, as you probably know, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, essayist, novelist, and social critic. But most importantly she is a citizen-patient with a unique capacity to make the political personal and grab our attention with the urgency of the truth….She has actually been criticized for being a ‘monster of empathy’… and to that I say, bring it on! In choosing Anna to speak to an audience of physicians, we are choosing to amplify the patient’s voice.”

Ms. Quindlen’s remarks framed the current healthcare climate in the realm of the depersonalization that is happening in society at large. She commented, “The problems in health care, in patients feeling separate, ignored, patronized by doctors and nurses and other professionals—they are not stand alone problems. They’re part of something larger, more pervasive, more systemic in our society.” She went on to say, “It may seem counterintuitive, but at the time of a technological explosion, that human touch is more necessary than ever before.” She advised doctors to be present in the moment, “We understand that you’re busy. But it only takes a moment to look, really look, into a person’s eyes, to pass back and forth the spark of humanity we share.” In conclusion, she urged the audience to acknowledge uncertainty, practice empathy and to try to be kind, garnering thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Additional support for the lecture was provided by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.

About the Arnold P. Gold Foundation: The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, established in 1988, is a not-for- profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of patient care by enhancing the healthcare professional-patient relationship. It encourages the development of physicians and other healthcare professionals who combine the high tech skills of cutting-edge medical science with the high touch skills of communication, empathy and compassion. Learn more at humanism-in-medicine.org.

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