Gold Humanism Honor Society


The Robert F. Russell, M.D. ’46 Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) was founded in 2006 with support from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The BUSM chapter is part of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s larger national GHHS that recognizes and supports humanistic exemplars in medicine. Since 2006, over 400 medical students, residents, and faculty members have been inducted into the GHHS BUSM chapter by peer nomination. Election to GHHS membership constitutes a significant honor, comparable to being selected to AOA. Suzanne Sarfaty, M.D., Assistant Dean of Medical Education, is the GHHS chapter advisor at BUSM.

Click here for What’s New in GHHS.

BUSM’s Chapter Namesake

The GHHS at BUSM was founded in honor of Robert F. Russell, M.D., BUSM Class of 1946, who served in the US Navy (1946-1950) and entered general practice in 1950. Dr. Russell settled in Castine, Maine and served the region of Penobscott Bay for over 30 years as a general practitioner, surgeon, and chief medical officer, Maine Maritime Academy.

Dr. Russell was quoted as saying:

  • “I brought medicine to people’s homes and they became my friends as well as my patients.”
  • “Make the best of what you have. Be creative and try different approaches.”
  • “Rely on yourself, and rush to assist others.”
  • “Laugh when you can- particularly if there is nothing else you can do.”
  • “Friends are family.”
  • “Ask why not as often as possible.”
  • “Keep going, you’ll survive.”
  • “There’s something new and funny and warm in every day.”

Nomination and Induction Process

In February/March of each year, third-year B.U. medical students are asked to nominate their peers and BMC residents for induction into GHHS. After votes are tallied, those students who receive the top 20% of votes from their peers are asked to complete an essay that is reviewed by the GHHS BUSM committee. The essay asks student nominees to answer the following questions:

  • How do you exemplify the characteristics of the GHHS (provide examples)?
  • If you are selected to be a member of GHHS, how will you help to promote compassionate, patient-centered care at our institution?

Based on these personal essays, committee members make the final determination regarding membership into the GHHS BUSM chapter. Those students inducted into the BUSM chapter are regarded as leaders, role models, and agents of change in the field of medicine, and they are expected to participate in chapter activities at BUSM. A formal induction ceremony is held in the spring and includes the traditional pinning ceremony. No more than 15% of the third year class is inducted.


Medical students in the class of 2022 may use the following form to nominate their peers for the Gold Humanism Honor Society. DEADLINE for submissions: March 24, 2021, 11:59 PM.

Gold Humanism Honor Society Peer Nomination Form for Class of 2022 Students

Using the 5 questions listed below as a guide, name up to six classmates and two residents who meet the criteria for nomination into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Nominees should demonstrate exceptional clinical competence, interpersonal skills, and a humanistic approach to the practice of medicine and community service. Each nomination must be accompanied by specific examples to be considered. 

  • Who best personifies the quote “the secret of good patient care lies in caring for the patient”? Why?
  • Who would you like to have by your side during a medical emergency? Why?
  • Who has shown exceptional interest in service to their communities? How?
  • Who would you want as a doctor for yourself or a loved one? Why?
  • Who has the best listening skills with patients? Why?

Guidelines for nominating your peers:

  • Please do not nominate yourself. The nomination process is based on behavior observed by others. It is not based on students’ opinions of themselves.
  • We ask that nominations are based on the above criteria. In the past, students have nominated their friends with the promise of the friends nominating them; this is not a fair use of the nomination process.