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Resident Petal Elder MD "Honored and Humbled" by Gold Humanism Award

June 04, 2020
Dr. Petal Elder

Petal Elder MD, first-year Internal Medicine resident, says she is "deeply honored and humbled" to be inducted into the UMMS student chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She is one of six UMass residents—and the only Baystate resident—to receive this honor.

She was nominated by her peers in recognition of her commitment to teaching and her kind and compassionate treatment of patients, families, students, and colleagues.

"I was overcome with emotion and gratitude for such an acknowledgement of my day-to-day work. I am ever so happy that I was able to have such a positive impact on the medical students with whom I interacted."

"It’s Not Only Your Aptitude but Your Attitude"

That advice from her mother, along with a desire to emulate the warmth and kindness of doctors she most respected and trusted, had a big impact on Dr. Elder's approach to the practice of medicine.

"Often, being on the patient and family side, you feel lost, vulnerable, and frightened as you navigate the complexity of illness," she said. "In sum, you need a physician who of course has the medical expertise, but also one who genuinely cares."

"During times of crisis, little things; tone of voice, clarity of explanations, a warm smile, reassuring words, patience and compassion go such a long way. It fosters understanding and connection."

"Imposter Syndrome Rears its Ugly Head"

Residency has been the most difficult chapter of her life, according to Dr. Elder, because ‘imposter syndrome’ makes her question her abilities.

"This award is a cogent reminder that notwithstanding differences in approach to medicine, one must remain faithful to their core values." She adds, "It is a reminder that each person has a unique set of strengths and talents that can be employed to enhance the medical team camaraderie and the patient experience."

The Gold Humanism Honor Society recognizes students, residents and faculty who practice “patient-centered care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy.”

UMMS-Baystate faculty members Katie Jobbins and Elizabeth Peacock-Chambers were also elected to GHHS this spring.