Contact: Ian Clark
MADISON, Wis. — Dr. Cynthia Haq, professor of family medicine and population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has earned the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award.
Haq, a faculty member at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), was presented this national award by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at its annual meeting in Chicago on November 9.
According to the AAMC, the Humanism in Medicine Award annually honors a medical school faculty physician who exemplifies the qualities of a caring and compassionate mentor in the teaching and advising of medical students. The nominee must also possess the desirable personal qualities necessary to the practice of patient-centered medicine by teaching ethics, empathy, and service by example.
“I am honored to be a representative for humanism in medicine,” said Haq. “It’s the heart of medicine and is at the core of what we do. I’ve always tried to honor the art and the science of medicine. To me the art, at its very core, is respect for the dignity and worthiness of every single human being. The reason we call it an art is that it is applied differently with every patient. Yet this remains one of the most vital skills for being a good doctor. I’m glad that this award exists to heighten the awareness of this important element of doctoring.”
Growing up in Indiana and Pakistan, Haq took great interest in people around her who were living in poverty, forming early opinions and ideas about her responsibility to help others.
“It troubled me greatly as a child that there were children who were just like me but didn’t have clothes to wear or food to eat. And as I grew older, I was always grappling with the idea that, if the world is so unfair and I’m the lucky one who was dealt a good hand of cards, then what can I do with my life to make things better for others.”
That compassion is evident in her work in Wisconsin — through the Training In Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) program directed by Haq, which places third- and fourth-year medical students in underserved areas of Milwaukee — and across the globe, including the first family-medicine residency programs in Pakistan, Uganda and Ethiopia, which she helped establish.
Last year, Haq was awarded the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, again from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which led to some early confusion about this new award. The Tow Humanism award is presented to a graduate student and faculty member at 96 of the nation’s medical schools.
“It was a great honor to receive the award last year because students selected me. I was happy to know that my work was meaningful for our own students, but I was stunned to receive this national award,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do the work that I do without the support of so many people; my family, friends, teachers, Dean Golden, family medicine chairs and colleagues who’ve supported and covered for me when I was working abroad, my students, my patients who’ve forgiven me for being gone for periods of time. My work has always been through collaborations with many people working together; I’m just a representative of the hundreds of people who’ve supported me personally and professionally, otherwise my work would not be possible.”