Project Healthcare is an exciting and innovative program that was created by Dr. Lewis Goldfrank in 1981 to train student volunteers to care for patients in Bellevue's Emergency Department and to encourage them to pursue careers in healthcare. Project Healthcare blends together two powerful forces: the environment of Bellevue's busy and intense Emergency Department and the enthusiasm and wonder of young people having their first exposure to patient care. Dr. Goldfrank's idea, which gave birth to Project Healthcare, was that if young people had a truly authentic experience as caregivers and helpers working directly with patients, nurses, aids, social workers, and doctors at Bellevue, they would be motivated to pursue careers in healthcare, and especially, in public health.
Dr. Goldfrank's vision has been a wonderful success. Over the last forty years, hundreds of young people have gone through Project Healthcare and have gone on to to careers in healthcare and public health and many credit Project Healthcare as the pivotal experience in their lives. We now have an opportunity by providing financial support to expand Project Healthcare so that more young people from underserved communities can participate in this life changing and amazing program.
NYU Medical Student Maya Graves, Class of 2023, Created this Video Describing the Impact Project Healthcare had on her Journey to Medical School:
Please see below for a more detailed description of Project Healthcare:
Project Healthcare is a 10-week summer volunteer program for college-age students who are interested in healthcare. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the clinical experience of medicine so young people contemplating a career in the health sciences can make educated choices.
Participants are based in the Bellevue Hospital Emergency Department, one of the most active Emergency Departments in New York City. In the ED they work with the clinical staff in the role of patient advocate, helping with a range of essential jobs that range from the mundane (making up stretchers, bringing patients drinks of water) to the complicated and difficult (sitting with the families of desperately ill patients.) Volunteers also rotate through the hospital's operating rooms, the recovery room and the cardiac cath lab. They ride along with Fire Department EMTs and they spend time with the Emergency Department's social workers.
Project Healthcare is now attracting almost 1000 applicants a year for its 65 spots. Volunteers work three or four 5-hour shifts a week, attend weekly meetings and lectures, and receive intensive daily support and feedback from program staff. Volunteers also work as health educators in the Emergency Department's annual Health Fair, and each volunteer completes an individual research project and presents the results to NYU/Bellevue faculty and staff.
With the addition of new grant support, Project Healthcare now offers its participants housing stipends as well as discretionary funding for projects and expenses to participants. This support has helped attract applicants from underserved areas and has also allowed the project to hire past participants to mentor new volunteers. The Bellevue Association hopes to expand this part of the program with funds raised from our event honoring Dr. Goldfrank.
Most of the Project's graduates continue their education in healthcare, many at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the nation. Invariably, participants report that their Project Healthcare experience was pivotal in creating the passion for medicine that helped them to succeed.