Each year, the national Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) celebrates and commemorates compassionate patient care during the GHHS Solidarity Week. This year the KU GHHS chapter asked its faculty, resident, and student members to reflect on what it means to be a physician –particularly what it means to be a compassionate, humanistic physician. We hope you can join us this week in celebration and reflection of your personal and professional journey, and how to continually strive for compassionate, kind, and gentle human-centered care.
I didn’t think I would ever get to this point in my life, if I am being honest. I have hated a major part of myself since I was eight years old. I remember, as I am sure anyone who was raised in a Christian family would, praying to God that he would take this feeling away from me. The feeling I was describing was having an attraction to the same sex. I ran away from these thoughts and feelings as much as I could, but I could only get so far. I remember hearing people in church describing the abomination of homosexuality — destined for an eternity in hell. Hell ain’t it for me so I decided that wasn’t an option. I needed to suppress my attraction to men so I could be chilling in heaven. Suffice to say that didn’t work — and I am glad it didn’t work. What resulted out of this attempt was years of hating a part of myself; begging to God to take this away from me and trying to come to terms with how a merciful, loving God could have no mercy on individuals simply for something they have no control of. I now reject that notion that homosexuality is a hell sentence. If you believe homosexuality is a sin, fine — but a sin is a sin. Which makes my “sin” no better or worse than yours. But Christians choose what “sin” takes precedent over another. I reject that notion on the basis of love. I believe that it is not the case that homosexuality is a sentence to hell and I would implore “Christians” who are spreading that message to do a great deal of introspection — why does this bother you so much? Additionally, you “Christians” are doing a great disservice to the religion that you so fervently claim is about love — this isn’t love. This is hate. Full stop.
To this day, the promises of Juneteenth have yet to be actualize. In 2021, over 150 years after the Emancipation proclamation and two years after, when all salves heard of their “freedom”, we still are not free.
Earlier this week, President Biden signed into law a bill that recognized Juneteenth as a National holiday. Juneteenth is the commeration of the day when federal troops took control of the state of Texas to ensure the freedom of slaves, June 19th, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation, itself, was a performative gesture. It only freed slaves under Confederate control.
You’ve heard it said that no man is an island, but during COVID’s prolonged quarantine, it was difficult not to identify with that floating, isolated unit of life. As minutes turned into weeks, I found myself starving for the very sense of connection which Maslow postulated was a human need. When quarantine ended, I stumbled out into the world with a cautious desperation to rekindle relationships. I participated in conversations with vigor and listened intently. Yet, despite my enthusiasm, I still felt… distant. Sure, there was physically 6 feet of distance, but I found myself confronting another barrier. How could I connect with someone while half their face was covered?
If the constantly changing schedule of a third-year medical student has taught me anything, it has challenged me to branch out from my comfort zone and pushed me to seek out a different creative medium than what I am used to. While I am very familiar and comfortable with inkwork, having completed projects both casually and for my undergraduate art courses, it has been more than a decade since I’ve picked up watercolors.
Last year I unearthed my parents’ old Pentax point-and-shoot that they purchased in the mid 1990s. Upon asking them about the camera, my parents told me about fond memories that they had using it to capture their first few years in a new and foreign land. To all of our surprises, it still worked! I quickly purchased some film and took the camera with me on family trips. When I got scans of my pictures back, I was astounded.
The KU School of Medicine Class of 2024 started medical school virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic. They were the only class for whom the white coat ceremony was held virtually. Most students got to know each other through the class GroupMe chat, and other than that, there were not too many chances to get to know people outside of small groups. One way through which students connected with each other was student interest groups led by several students in the class. One of these groups is the KUMC Student Community Providers, which organizes student volunteers to help with actionable ongoing needs in Wyandotte County. The group is currently managed by several students in Class of 2024, but it was initiated through the efforts of Sophia Leonard and Karam Hamada. This is a conversation between Karam Hamada, a second-year medical student at KUMC, and Kimia Memar, one of our Med Intima Narrative editors from the same class.
How do you describe yourself?
I consider myself to be different if that makes sense. I have a fascination with not fitting in, and I have an issue with doing the same thing repetitively for long periods of time. So that’s why I always need to be doing different kinds of experiences all the time and meet different people.
From personal experience, I know not fitting in the mainstream is not easy. However, I see how you are embracing that and letting it liberate you.
I think part of it could be that I bounced around many different schools growing up. I went to 8 different schools, and every one of them was so different with regards to its identify, with students ranging from very low to very high socioeconomic statuses. Having to switch and adapt my identify to each of them was really taxing on me. So in college, I decided to be myself because I would never be able to fully fit in. I want to help my family and everyone around me, but I also want to uplift them to feel comfortable in doing what they want to do. I’m really big into service and that is not just community service: it is giving back and inspiring others to give back.