The University of Arizona

College of Medicine Holds Solidarity Day Events to Commemorate Tucson Shooting

By Arizona Health Sciences Center, February 7, 2014

Solidarity Day was established in honor of the UA's Dr. Randall Friese and others who cared for the victims of the 2011 shooting that injured former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Health sciences students and employees come together to form a human chain on Solidarity Day.
Health sciences students and employees come together to form a human chain on Solidarity Day.
Dr. Randall Friese
Dr. Randall Friese
Banners featuring the seven attributes of humanism in medicine – integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service – will be displayed on Solidarity Day.
Banners featuring the seven attributes of humanism in medicine – integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service – will be displayed on Solidarity Day.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine will hold a series of events and activities this week to commemorate the mass shooting in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, that killed six and wounded several others, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The events, for students and staff of the Arizona Health Sciences Center and the University of Arizona Medical Center, will culminate Feb. 14, which marks the fourth annual National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care.

Held every year on Valentine's Day, the national commemoration was established by The Gold Humanism Honor Society in honor of the humanistic actions of UA surgeon Dr. Randall Friese – the first physician to treat Giffords after she was shot – and other members of the UAMC team who cared for the wounded and dying.

Friese, an associate professor in the UA Department of Surgery, struck a chord in the international medical community after telling The New York Times that his most important actions the day Giffords was shot were "holding her hand, speaking to her and reassuring her that she was in the hospital and would be cared for."

On Solidarity Day, medical schools and health care institutions across North America and Canada stand in solidarity, undertaking projects to pay tribute to compassionate, patient-centered caregivers like Friese.

"It is a distinct honor to have my small actions contribute to the organization of this event," Friese said. "I am pleased that a message of humanism in medicine is being communicated across the state and country."

The UA's Solidarity Day activities will be led by the Gold Humanism Honor Society's UA chapter, part of the College of Medicine's Program in Medical Humanities.

Activities include:

  • Monday | Students will deliver baskets with information about Solidarity Day, as well as ribbons, candies and cards, to units throughout UAMC's two campuses. Employees and students will be asked to fill out cards with the names of colleagues who demonstrate humanism in medicine, with descriptions of their humanistic acts. The cards will be pinned to large display boards at Friday's Solidarity Day event.
  • Wednesday | Representatives from Art Aloud, part of the Program in Medical Humanities, will do poetry readings and read from the cards gathered on Monday. The event will take place at noon at UAMC's Java City.
  • Friday | At 11:45 a.m., health sciences students and employees will gather in the AHSC plaza, where they will join hands in a circle, forming a human chain to demonstrate standing in solidarity for compassionate patient care. The event will include speakers from the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Banners with the seven attributes of humanism in medicine – integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect, empathy and service – will be arranged in a circle and attendees will be asked to stand near the attribute they most exemplify. The event will conclude with a choral performance by Doc-Apella, a group of UA medical students who sing together to help connect with patients and to relieve stress.
  • Friday | Students and employees at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix will meet at noon in the lobby/cafe area of the Health Sciences Education Building in Phoenix to to share what compassionate care means to them via words, pictures and photographs.

Members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, an initiative of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, include top medical students, residents and faculty. Members are chosen for demonstrating empathy, compassion, altruism, integrity and service. The society has 95 medical school chapters and more than 13,000 members.

"With 92 chapters in U.S. and Canadian medical schools, the Gold Humanism Honor Society is a force for humanism in medicine and patient-centered care," said Dr. Andreas Theodorou, chief medical officer for UAMC and adviser to the UA chapter of GHHS.

"We want to celebrate the many humanistic acts performed here every day," he said.