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GHHS Supports Student Volunteer Efforts Amidst Pandemic

Members of the New York Medical College (NYMC) chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) are exemplars of compassionate patient care.

April 06, 2020
Gold Humanism Honor Society Members
Gold Humanism Honor Society Members

“During this time of uncertainty, instead of choosing to dwell on the experiences we have lost like Match Day, clerkships and commencement, we have chosen to focus on what we might be able to do to help others who are losing so much more,” said Brianna Evans, SOM Class of 2020 and GHHS co-president. “I believe the work we are doing is important simply because it is necessary. It has taught us that even the smallest task can make a tremendous amount of difference during this time.  It’s a good feeling to know we can make some sort of impact in all this, and we all need a pick me up or two these days.”

The GHHS partnered with third-year medical student, Mathias Palmer, who developed a centralized project management platform to share opportunities and facilitate volunteer sign-ups for each initiative. Their projects include providing virtual tutoring sessions as well as child and pet care for healthcare workers. “We know that physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff are working extended hours and their loved ones may be in need of care when they are unable to be there. We want to help care for their loved ones while they are caring for someone else’s,” explained Ms. Evans.

Medical students are also supporting inundated affiliate hospitals, Westchester Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital, NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, and Greenwich Hospital, where students are volunteering to field emergency department triage telephone calls and notify patients of their COVID-19 test results. The centralized project management tool allows volunteers to be dispatched where and when they are needed most.

The group is also organizing a personal protective equipment (PPE) collection, seeking donations from local community organizations and businesses and offering food and prescription delivery for the elderly.

Closer to home, additional programs are being planned by student led wellness and resiliency teams. These efforts include sessions that will cover topics faced by medical students including imposter syndrome, patient deaths and ethical conundrums. Training sessions will include videos of fourth-year medical students sharing their first-hand accounts of challenges, surprises and overall experiences during their transition into core clerkships.  “Through this knowledge-share we hope to provide guidance and insight on what clerkships are like from our perspective to each of our classmate’s transitions,” said Ms. Evans.

 “I have tremendous pride in the hard work of our students. Their actions reflect the a spirit of compassion that is characteristic of students who matriculate at New York Medical College,” said Jennifer L. Koestler, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and GHHS faculty advisor. “While students have always exhibited a spirit of volunteerism, they have more than risen to the challenge we now face in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”