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Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Alumni Association wanted to ensure that future physicians were protected

The Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Alumni Association is supporting medical students working in clinical settings during the coronavirus pandemic – buying them Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use on duty and upgrading their break room with appliances and technology that make it possible to eat and relax between shifts.

The association met with student affairs deans at the medical school, the student government association and other student-managed organizations and learned that there were several important needs: to supplement the eye protection provided by the school with a second pair of goggles; to address financial concerns among medical students where debt burden is already high; and to provide some respite from stress.

“Our board was more than happy to support students by donating the goggles in a time of heightened stress,” says alumni association president Elena Frid, who graduated from the medical school in 2006. 

The alumni association also purchased a TV and refrigerator for the student call room at the Medical Education Building in New Brunswick. Since there was no refrigerator, students couldn’t bring food from home so all their meals were purchased, which the alumni association agreed was an added financial burden. They now have a safe break space where they can eat and relax before they go back to clinical work.

The alumni association said the decision was made to provide funding for these initiatives because they understand the anxiety doctors feel providing care to sick patients while also protecting their own safety.

“The alumni association’s goal is to create the best learning environment for our students and support the specific needs they share with us,” says Hank Lubin, a 1983 medical school graduate and alumni association treasurer. “We as board members love being able to help students through financial support, mentorship and friendship. We are here for our students.”

He adds, “While we are a board of physicians, and many of us are on the ground providing treatment to COVID patients, we didn’t want to lose sight of other ways that COVID has affected people here in New Jersey. Being able to make even small changes to improve the lives of our students makes us feel like we’re paying it forward to the school who taught and gave us so much.”