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Humanism Honor Society - Description


The Humanism Honor Society at the University of Maryland was established in October of 2002 by Dean Donald Wilson to provide a means of recognizing medical students, house officers and faculty members demonstrating meritorious humanistic qualities. In 2007, the Society became a chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society through a grant from The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Reasons Behind The Establishment Of The Society

  1. It sends a message to the public that we value humanistic physicians.
  2. It is a response to a specific action item in the Five-Year Strategic Plan to strengthen Professionalism activities.
  3. It fulfills part of the mandate of the Director of the Professionalism Project (HELPERS-PRO).
  4. It answers one of the issues raised in the Project Director's Survey and Report on Professionalism to the Dean; specifically to identify professional/humanistic physicians as well as identify and remediate unprofessional behavior.
  5. It is congruent with the necessity to evaluate “core competencies” in residency training programs.
  6. It completes the evolutionary process of stressing humanism and professionalism which begins with the White Coat Ceremony, progresses through the Student Clinician Ceremony and culminates in the Society's Match Day Awards Ceremony.
  7. It affirms that the University of Maryland School of Medicine is among the leaders in medical schools initiating such societies.
  8. It fulfills the necessity of commenting on humanistic/professional qualities in the “Dean's letter.”
  9. It permits our UMMC residency programs to know more about our applicants.

Criteria for Membership

Members are selected who have exhibited exemplary humanistic/professional behavior. We have defined this as the demonstration of the highest qualities of professionalism and humanism to peers as well as faculty and staff, specifically:

  1. Integrity and sound moral reasoning.
  2. Respect for others from all walks of life.
  3. The ability to establish good communicative relationships.
  4. A willingness to engage in supportive patient interaction/advocacy.
  5. An ability to learn from life experiences (in the face of adversity maintaining a commitment to the humanistic goals of compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service).

Nomination Process

Nominees should reflect the diversity of the class. Nominations that explain why you think the student merits selection, giving examples of his or her humanism are particularly helpful.


Approximately 10% of the 4th year class will be elected to membership each year. These student members of the Society will be chosen through a process of nomination by peers and faculty members and peer-evaluations by those nominated. Six residents and one faculty member a year will be selected by those members of the society who at that time are associated with the Medical Center. Members will also include those residents selected to membership in Societies in other schools of medicine and a core group of humanistic faculty to be selected by the Dean (numbering ten).

Membership of the Selection Committee include:

  • Three clinical clerkship directors.
  • Three clinical clerkship coordinators.
  • The faculty awardee/members.
  • Three Associate Deans.
  • The Project Professionalism Director. (Dr. Talbott)

Selection Process

The committee will solicit all 4th year students for nominations from among their peers and all faculty members by email. In addition, students will be asked to recommend up to three peers who meet peer evaluation criteria using a Peer Evaluation Form. The results will be tabulated.

Nominations of individuals will be posted on a site that all committee members may gain access to but not alter. Any unsuitable nominations will be eliminated by majority vote.

The nominating letters, peer-evaluations and any other pertinent material in the student's file will be taken into consideration in winnowing the list down to approximately 10% of the class.

Formation Of The Society

The awardees will be notified and their names announced and they along with the faculty awardee, the faculty nominated by the Dean and any faculty advisors they may choose will become the founding members of the Society.

These members will select six house officers for the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards by any method they choose and those chosen will also become founding members.

The Ongoing Society

The Society will grow each year as more 4th year students, residents and faculty members are elected and choose to remain at the Medical Center and as persons selected elsewhere join the faculty and house staff.

Functions Of The Society

The Society shall:

  1. Promote humanism and professionalism through various other activities.
  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.