LaTonya Riddle-Jones, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine's Division of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, is the 2023 recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.
The award, given through the Gold Humanism Honor Society, is presented to one Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty member each year. Recipients demonstrate the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients, their families and health care colleagues; and demonstrated clinical excellence.
“It means so much to me to have been chosen by the students for this award,” said Dr. Riddle-Jones, who also serves as vice chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Department of Internal Medicine. “When I was a student, just trying to get to graduation at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, I would have never imagined that I would be able to address the first-year class at such a monumental moment in this journey to becoming a physician. I will never forget my White Coat Ceremony, and I hope they reflect on theirs often.”
Dr. Riddle-Jones, a 2008 graduate of the School of Medicine. served as the medical director for Corktown Health Center in Detroit, Michigan's first nonprofit medical home dedicated to serving adult LGBTQ patients and their families. In 2020, Crain’s Business Detroit named her a Health Care Hero for her work with the clinic.
Her teaching and research efforts focus on preventive health, health equity and health literacy in education. She is associate director of the Tri-County Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program operated in partnership with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides free and low-cost screening, diagnostic services and access to treatment for breast and cervical cancer.
“Humanism in medicine is fundamental to the practice of medicine: science and art. It means that you honor and respect each individual patient by showing them kindness and dignity, and knowing that they are the expert in their life experiences,” she said. “They have autonomy, and when well informed will make the best decisions for their health based on their expertise, not mine. I practice this by listening to my patients. Making sure that I have explained things well and asking them to tell me when and where I can improve in my practice of medicine. I want to be the best possible physician for each and every one of my patients, and the best teacher for my trainees, so that feedback is important so that I can evolve and continue to improve through learning from them.”
During her keynote address during the July 28 White Coat Ceremony to welcome the Class of 2027, Dr. Riddle-Jones spoke of the privilege that the white coat conveys to physicians, and noted the privileges are earned, and can be lost.
“Always practice medicine with cultural humility and cultural competency,” she advised the 306 new physicians-in-training.