Oakwood physician earns Humanism in Medicine Award

In recognition of a career-long dedication to compassionate patient care, Oakwood dermatologist Thomas P. Waldinger, MD, has been chosen to receive the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award.

The national award, created to recognize physicians who demonstrate exceptional commitment to compassionate patient care, is given annually to one practicing dermatologist and is cosponsored with the Gold Foundation by The American Academy of Dermatology.

“The basis for treatment of a patient is medical science, but the fundamental core value of medicine is humanism,” said Waldinger, who added that he was honored to receive the award. “The essence of humanism is compassion and kindness. I have always believed that a physician should take a personal interest in each patient. In the practice of medicine this will enrich and sustain both the patient and the physician.”

Waldinger has written about the unique relationship between doctor and patient in two books: The Wisdom of Life through My Patients (PWM; University of Michigan Press, 2000) and Listen to the Whispers (Dobson Powell Press, 2009), which illustrate the meaning of physician-patient relationships and the profound learning physicians can gain from the wisdom and life experiences of their patients.

“I wrote these books to honor my mentor, John L. Ulrich, MD, and my grandfather, said Dr. Waldinger. “My patients’ stories are a chorus of voices offering inspiration, wisdom, and hope. An aspect of patient-centered care is appreciation for the uniqueness of each patient. This comes from listening to their life experiences and values. In the process of using our medical knowledge to help our patients, we still can learn from their courage in the face of formidable health challenges and also be enriched by their wisdom. These are things that remain in your heart forever.

“In several stories my patients focused on experiences in their lives that they had never before shared with anyone – not even their spouse, a friend or relative,” he added. “Although they hadn’t intended to conceal these experiences, it was not until they began to examine and explain their philosophies of life that they understood the importance of these hidden memories. The conversations that arose from this process were an unexpected resource of warmth, love and knowledge.”

Dr. Waldinger is a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer and geriatric dermatology. A member of the medical staff at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn, his other honors include graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan and recognition in Best Doctors© (1996-2012). He is the author or co-author of 12 peer-reviewed publications in Dermatology journals. He lectures frequently in the community on skin health in mature adults, and on the lessons in life, faith, love and humor in his two books.