A foundation interested in making sure students become excellent doctors with the kind of bedside manner you’d trust your elderly grandmother to, recognized UCF’s College of Medicine for its efforts this month.

The Jules B. Chapman, M.D. and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation provided the medical school with a $116,225 grant that will establish the “Chapman Humanism in Medicine Initiative” at UCF. The money will help create and enhance programs to foster students’ humanism and further focus on physician ethics and professionalism. The money will also help expand student well-being and positive mental health programs at the college of medicine.

Developing students’ hearts as well as their heads for medicine has been a focus Dr. Deborah German, the school’s founding dean and the vice president for medical affairs.

“At UCF we are creating physicians who are The Good Doctor,” German said. “Such a doctor is compassionate, engaged and a great communicator. In the past we considered these ‘soft skills’ but today we know that such skills are necessary to truly serve patients.”

Dr. Robert Watson, trustee of the foundation and a neurologist since 1972, said medical schools’ challenging curriculum could alter the “fundamental goodness” that brings most students into healthcare and can leave them cynical.

Watson said he hopes the Chapman initiative will teach UCF students to be resilient despite the challenges of caring for others in an often-difficult healthcare system. He said his own experience with patients has taught him the importance of a healer who feels deeply what patients and their families are going through and makes the journey with them.

“The more I did that, the more I realized that such feeling was more important than any pill or potion I could give the patient,” Watson said.

Preventing burnout, anxiety and depression is another challenge for medical schools. The grueling four years of training can deteriorate the compassion that students bring with them to medical school. The Chapman Foundation grant will help expand wellness programs at UCF’s College of Medicine to promote students’ well being and positive mental health. New resources will include kiosks, where students can use biofeedback techniques to measure their stress and do something about it. The college will also expand lunchtime sessions on topics such as suicide prevention, mindfulness and building resiliency.

The grant will also establish the UCF Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). GHHS honors fourth-year M.D. students who are exemplars of humanism and demonstrate excellence in clinical care and a dedication to service. Established in 2002, the GHHS is a signature program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a national organization dedicated to fostering humanism in healthcare. The Chapman Foundation donation will help sustain a GHHS chapter at the College of Medicine and fund students’ service-related projects.

Another program that will get a boost thanks to the new funding is the narrative medicine program at UCF. Narrative medicine’s focus is helping students and faculty appreciate and reflect on the doctor-patient relationship and how both parties deal with disease. With the grant, the medical school will expand reflective experiences during the internal medicine clerkship. Such experiences are now done during the pediatrics clerkship. In addition, the Chapman Foundation’s donation will provide additional support to The Script, the student-produced literary magazine, where students reflect through writing, photography and illustration their experiences in life, death and patient care. Last year’s inaugural edition gained national attention from the Association of American Medical Schools (AAMC). With the donation, the college will be able to expand the magazine and its distribution.

UCF College of Medicine faculty members worked together with partners to create the Chapman Humanism in Medicine Initiative, which ultimately won the grant. Members of the team included: Dr. Caridad Hernandez, Dr. Marcy Verduin, associate dean for students, Dr. Katherine Daly, a psychologist from UCF’s Counseling and Psychological Services, and Dr. Shazia Beg, a UCF faculty member who was inducted into the national Gold Humanism Society as a medical student, Soraya Smith, M.B.A. and Dr. Analia Castiglioni.

About the Jules B. Chapman, M.D. and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation

The goal of the Jules B. Chapman and Annie Lou Chapman Foundation is to elevate the values of professionalism and humanism within the practice of medicine. The foundation advocates for humanism through activities within medical education and the community.

Jules B. Chapman, M.D., an ophthalmologist, attended the University of Tennessee for his medical training after graduating from the University of Florida. After his internship at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, he served as a surgeon in the European theater during World War II, distinguishing himself at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he returned to West Palm Beach and set up a private practice with his wife, Annie Lou, as his nurse. During the war, she had worked at Jackson Memorial alongside Dr. Bascom Palmer in the early days of cataract surgery.

Dr. Robert Watson, Trustee of the Jules B. Chapman and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation, is professor of neurology at Florida State University and professor emeritus at UF, where he was Senior Associate Dean of Educational Affairs for 18 years. He was Mrs. Chapman’s physician for many years, describing her as fiercely independent, opinionated and a woman who loved to dance. He says that during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Dr. Chapman was being treated for vascular disease, the couple decided to seek ways to improve humanism in the care of patients. Following her husband’s death, Mrs. Chapman began pursuing ways to fulfill their wish. She not only funded the UF Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Society, but also created a professorship, “The Chapman Professor of Clinical Care and Humaneness,” which Dr. Watson held until his retirement from UF. She also funded a full tuition four-year scholarship for a deserving medical student. Even in her 90s, Mrs. Chapman attended Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society induction ceremonies at the University of Florida, telling medical students, “You all need to be just like Dr. Watson.” Before Mrs. Chapman died she created a private foundation to support more humanities in medicine and named her physician as its trustee.