The Volunteer Spotlight shines a light on Jared Silverberg, Founder of our University of Michigan TEACH branch and medical student at Rush Medical College. The Michigan TEACH branch was our first expansion out of New York, and reached nearly 200 children this past academic year alone, between C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
- What motivated you to open a Branch?
In 2014, as a freshman at the University of Michigan, I searched for ways to combine my interest in medicine with my love of working with children. Over Winter Break that school year, I learned about a young nonprofit organization in New York with a powerful “teaching for healing” mission, and I immediately knew how enriching this program would be for the patients at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. After much planning and back-and-forth, I convinced hospital directors how valuable TEACH would be for their patients, laid out the framework for the program, and then coordinated with the National Board to launch our branch in Michigan. Finally, TEACH – Michigan (initially Project TEACH) was born, the first expansion project outside of TEACH’s New York home base. I would never have been able to successfully open the Michigan branch of TEACH without the endless support from the National Board members, and the confidence the board members had in me as a new college student.
2. What would you say to kids and parents going through hospitalization?
TEACH has demonstrated to me the importance of listening and communicating with both patients and parents, and how to balance optimism and transparency in practice. Certainly, nobody wants to be stuck in a hospital, especially young children. While I would never want to give a sense of false hope, I would make sure that pediatric patients and their families know that there is a massive team behind them doing everything possible to get them better and home. Physicians, nurses, technicians, hospital staff, and many more are dedicated to providing the best care to each and every patient. To the kids and their parents, I would say “we are all always thinking about you, we are all always praying for you, and we all cannot wait for you to get stronger and be able to leave the hospital and get home.”
3. With so many great organizations to support, what made you want to volunteer for TEACH?
Without a doubt the University of Michigan is a large university, yet with more than 1,500 student organizations on campus, I could not find a program that combined my interest in medicine with my love of working with children. The moment I learned about TEACH’s “teaching for healing” mission I knew that I had found the answer to what I was looking for and what I wanted to be involved with. While there are a number of undergraduates who volunteer in Michigan Medicine, TEACH – Michigan offers something that no other club has pledged: an opportunity to contribute to pediatric patients’ lives. These children and families go through a lot each and every day, and for two hours, or so, TEACH allows them to laugh, get messy, and shift their attention away from their treatment and have a fun time! I have had the honor of bringing our fun, educational, science-based activities to hundreds of patients in Ann Arbor and Detroit, and I am so happy that I was able to welcome over 150 student volunteers (and counting) the opportunity to share and spread TEACH’s mission.
4. What is the most surprising benefit of your involvement in TEACH?
TEACH has certainly furthered my love of working with kids, cementing my desire to specialize in pediatrics and helping me seek out other opportunities to work with pediatric patients during my time in Ann Arbor, and now as a medical student in Chicago. Witnessing the daily suffering of patients and their families is difficult. Repeat patients at our events in Michigan, sometimes over the course of an entire year, demonstrate the lengthy battles that these children endure. However, though some conditions may be debilitating, I have seen first-hand that quality of life can always be positively affected. The power to transform adverse circumstances into more optimistic situations is a principle that will continue to shape my personal and professional character. Seeing the effect that TEACH has had on children coast-to-coast and abroad, and the sense of reward I have felt from being a part of this meaningful organization, motivates me even more to be a dedicated physician.
5. What achievement or contribution to TEACH are you most proud of?
My involvement with TEACH has truly defined my undergraduate career. Initiating the first expansion project outside of TEACH’s New York home base has advanced my leadership skills, compassion, and professionalism. It has been so amazing to see this organization grow to over 30 hospitals in eight states and two countries, with plans to expand to even more! With the two active hospital partnerships I created in Michigan, I look forward to watching the continued success of TEACH – Michigan, and I am very confident that our branch’s current (and future) leadership team will continue the legacy and longevity of TEACH.