Einstein medical and Ph.D. student volunteers helping the front line

Julia Holber MS1
Einstein med student Julia Holber, who is pitching in outside of the hospital to the front line.
Photo courtesy Albert Einstein Hospital

While medical students cannot help with patients yet and are still taking classes online while others are studying for key exams, they are doing their part to pitch in during the COVID-19 crisis.

Amidst their massive course load, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ph.D. students have been by volunteering by babysitting, virtual tutoring, making grocery runs, surgical masks and face shields and boosting the capacity of the pathology labs to triage tests.


“We are trying to help,” said second-year med student Thomas Boucher. “We can see ourselves in their shoes.”

Boucher and first year students Julia Holber and Kathryn Segal are among roughly 140 student volunteers who have been lending a hand outside of the hospital.

“It’s definitely emotional,” Boucher said. “Some of my mentors from college are residents now.”

While they spend the majority of the time in the classroom or cramming their faces in books, they have teachers and people they look up to working the front line witnessing the sadness and death every day.

“This motivates to find ways to help our community,” Boucher said. “It would be nice for me to know that in a community like Einstein that we have medical students stepping up for this opportunity.”

Holber explained that they are close with some doctors, so they feel their emotional pain.

With the virus hitting the Bronx the hardest, they agreed it is important to do whatever possible to alleviate stress for the doctors and nurses. Many of the frontline workers have children who are now stuck at home because the schools are shuttered and their normal childcare won’t come because of the virus.

So the trio, along with their classmates, are doing the little things like buying groceries, tutoring and babysitting.

Whether in the classroom or doing work virtually, medical school is a lot of work. But, because they are all hardworking and diligent, they all agreed school from home isn’t that bad.

“Medical school is a lot of self [directive] learning,” Boucher said. “You’re really diving into the subject and following the guidance of the professor from the hospital.”

The trio live in apartments that overlook Jacobi Hospital, so for the past month or so they have heard the sirens nonstop and can feel the despair and sadness in the air. They cannot imagine what the doctors, nurses and staff are going through, but know in a few years that will be them.

“I think we are in a very opportune position because of our proximity to the hospital,” Holber said.

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