The Transformative Power of Giving

Author: Susan Abdel-Rahman, PharmD Published on 7/13/2020 7:24:00 AM

As the news of COVID broke earlier this year, I could not have imagined the extent of economic, social, and emotional disruption with which we would be faced 6 months later. Many of those around us have justifiably switched into self-preservation mode as they struggle to protect the health and wellbeing of loved ones, manage their children’s education, or face the prospect of unemployment. Add to this the inexplicable absurdities spotlighted by mainstream and social media, and it is no wonder that fear, anxiety, isolation, and exhaustion abound.

In the process of balancing the current responsibilities in my life during these anomalous times, I received an email from a student at an inner-city school with which I have invested money and time for the past 15 years. She is headed to Dartmouth in the fall with the boundless enthusiasm that accompanies young adults, and I took as much joy in this news as I did when our son received his University letter of acceptance. It was a well-timed reminder of the power of giving… for the patron.

Scientific research from Florida State, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, the University of Tennessee, and the National Institutes of Health suggests that:

  • Altruistic encounters strengthen social bonds which are central to happiness and strong mental health,
  • generosity is associated with lower levels of stress, reductions in blood pressure, and overall improvements in longevity irrespective of age and health habits,
  • giving stimulates the release of both oxytocin and endorphins in brain regions linked to pleasure, connection, and trust, leading to what has been termed the “warm glow effect” and the “helper’s high,” and
  • largesse directed toward 1 person caries a multiplier of 3 implying that a single philanthropic act can influence dozens of individuals downstream.
So, during these uncertain times I would encourage you to do something selfish and consider giving to something that is important to you. Though we often equate philanthropy with financial giving, it goes well beyond that to include volunteering your time, lending your voice to a worthwhile cause, and generally stepping in to address inequities that make philanthropy necessary.

As an organization, ASCPT is stepping up to do the same. In recognition of the hardships faced by many of our students and trainees, ASCPT will be sponsoring membership dues for all students and trainees in 2021. If you are a student or trainee, please know that this decision reflects a heartfelt commitment to your success. If you are a senior professional, please consider joining us by giving of your time and experience to mentor those early in their careers and to advocate for training opportunities within your organizations. And if you find yourself in a position to do so, and are so inclined, consider joining our giving campaign to sponsor the next generation of clinical pharmacologists and translational scientists. But more than anything, give some thought to giving to others to benefit yourself.

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