Back by popular demand is our volunteer spotlight! This months spotlight is on Aliza Goldsmith, who was a hospital leader when she was a student at Stern College for Women, as well as a hospital leader during her pre-clinical years as a medical student at Sackler Medical School.
1) What was something that you learned because of your involvement in TEACH?
When I initially thought of pursuing medicine, I thought that becoming a doctor was strictly about diagnosing the patient and moving on to the next one. But TEACH has taught me that there is so much more that goes into treating the full patient when they are hospitalized. TEACH is unique in that it encompasses the balance of educational learning with a fun project which enhances the child’s hospital experience in ways we can’t even imagine. I remember there was on patient whose mother could not stop thanking us over and over again as he has a true passion for the sciences but had no outlet for that in the hospital while he was undergoing treatment. Sometimes for us we don’t even realize the impact we are making on the patients.
2) How has TEACH impacted you?
TEACH has taught me that in the hospital it’s not just about the healthcare of the patient that aids in a complete recovery. I have personally worked alongside multiple therapists and child-life specialists to personalize specific projects to cater to different children’s needs. In moving on to residency as a future pediatrician, and to all future medical professionals I think it’s important to remember to look at the whole picture of the child in the hospital. Yes, the treatment is why the child is primarily there, but the experience they have there by being involved in TEACH in the hospital, it is important to remember that to the child that’s probably what they’ll remember most about their stay.
3) What was the most memorable (or two) TEACH moment(s) with a child that made your day and made you feel like you were making a difference?
I remember a number of years back, a group of students were at Dana Dwek Children’s Hospital in Tel Aviv and we were doing a new module to learn about Sickle Cell Disease using straws and red play dough. This child had a blood disorder and was there for treatment. I remember he was so enthusiastic to be doing a project that he could relate to and felt so excited that something he was doing in the hospital was teaching him about his own body. On another occasion, we were making bouncy balls, and a teenage boy who had been hospitalized for weeks was so enthralled by the explanation of polymers that he planned to use the experiment for his science fair later in the year. He insisted that we give him more ingredients to repeat the experiment in the hospital, and we gladly did.
4) Why TEACH?
I remember exactly where I was when the co-founder of TEACH, Yosefa Schoor, asked me if I would be interested in introducing the program to a NY hospital where I was a volunteer. The program was just starting out, so I figured I would give it a shot because although the hospital had many special programs running they had nothing like TEACH. And that’s exactly why I have continued with it all these years. TEACH offers something different- it’s educational and fun. The patients walk away with a project at the end feeling great that they made something cool. It’s a program that works for all ages, can be adapted for all levels of patient involvement and is really the perfect program for inpatient children.
5) If you could tell our donors, volunteers and collaborators one thing, what would it be and why?
Firstly, I would like to thank all those who help make TEACH possible. From the administrators, to the volunteers and everyone in between, it would not be such a smashing success without all your hard work. To our donors, TEACH is a unique opportunity to give because a small donation can go such a long way. A small donation can potentially impact hundreds of children forever. I’m really proud to be involved in such a special program, and I look forward to being involved continuously throughout my future career.