For more than 45 years, health care has been a passion and calling for Dr. Bill Goldman, CCAS BA ’72, MD ’75. And although Goldman retired from his pediatric practice in Arlington, Va., in 2017, providing medical care is still a vital part of his life.
Last year, Goldman spent three weeks in Tanzania with Global Volunteers, an international NGO with more than 100 long-term development partnerships with community organizations on six continents. Goldman’s volunteer work enabled him to assist in an underserved area overseas while satisfying his interest in international health.
“Global Volunteers is a very special organization with a program in Tanzania called ‘Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP),’” says Goldman. “The program is designed to help children lead healthy lives and address the fact that half of the village’s children are physically stunted—which also has cognitive consequences – a condition that is fully preventable with simple interventions that the RCP program teaches.”
In a small agricultural community in the remote Iringa District, RCP offers a state-of-the-art health center, including a medical clinic that provides infant and maternal care, labor and delivery, and routine family medicine.
Goldman teaching a class.
Goldman spent each morning teaching and working alongside two Tanzanian doctors, examining patients at the clinic. “In the afternoon, I presented talks to a group of mothers from five villages—usually with a child on her lap—about topics such as sanitation and infectious diseases and how they spread,” he says. “The slideshow I used was in Swahili and a native speaker would translate.”
Goldman’s role also included teaching the Tanzanian physicians. “I helped assess the clinic’s resources for meeting local needs, which involved making recommendations on how to improve their practice, evaluating the facilities, and offering suggestions on additional equipment that would be useful for the clinic,” he says.
Jenny Goldman, who is not a medical professional, joined her husband on the trip, primarily conducting “home visits.” Bill Goldman went along on a couple of these visits. “We were able to talk with mothers and their children to answer any questions regarding health they had and determine how well they’re following the program’s guidelines for nutrition, hygiene, and self-care,” he says. “Every dwelling is visited on a regular basis. Other afternoons involved reading books to children and helping them with English in the school area, which was fun!”
Goldman, who grew up in D.C., comes from a GW medical family. His father, Milton Goldman, graduated from GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1938 and his brother, Robert Goldman, followed in 1972.
“I majored in psychology as a GW undergrad and decided to take the four courses required to get into medical school,” he says. “My goal with my undergraduate education was to take courses such as psychology and anthropology which I would otherwise never have the chance to and receive a good general education, which I did.”
“GW’s medical school prepared me well to be a doctor,” he continues. “In my last year of medical school, I spent a semester at the university hospital in Uppsala, Sweden where I learned about a health system model different than the United States’.” Goldman says the experience helped him realize how much he likes being abroad.
He has also always enjoyed giving back. While in private practice, Goldman spent some years sharing his expertise with pediatric patients at the Arlington Free Clinic. “I was happy to be helpful to indigent patients,” he says. “It was rewarding and the families appreciated it.”
While in practice, he also took time off to work in New Mexico on a Navajo reservation.
Before starting his own practice, Goldman joined the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where he trained in the EIS (Epidemic Intelligence Service) and then worked in New York City in epidemiology. His commitment to public health continues with his ongoing involvement with Global Volunteers.
“I’m now on the Global Volunteers medical committee and plan to go back to Tanzania,” he says. “Global Volunteers is unique in that they have a sustainable program. Most medical programs go in, do their work and then leave, but this organization has an ongoing presence.”
Goldman is also exploring the feasibility of obtaining tests and equipment needed for the Global Volunteers health clinic in Tanzania. “Our medical committee is developing specific protocols to help the Tanzanian doctors treat patients and stay up to current standards since they don’t have continuing medical education opportunities,” he says.
He encourages fellow GW physicians (and non-medical providers) to participate in what he describes as a life-changing experience. “I can’t express fully how very, very fulfilling it is to help transform lives through Global Volunteers,” he says. “I hope that many others will get involved.”
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