February 01, 2018
The medical community received sad news last week. Dr. Arnold P. Gold, a remarkable physician, teacher, and humanitarian, died Jan. 23, 2018. He was 92.
You may know Dr. Gold as the co-founder, with his wife Sandra Gold, of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The goal of the Gold Foundation has been to promote a “Gold Standard” in healthcare—compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent care. The Foundation, known for supporting a humanistic approach to medicine, established the White Coat Ceremony and the Gold Humanism Honor Society—important pillars of our medical school and so many across the United States.
Dr. Gold was an internationally known pediatric neurologist and a professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. I smiled when I learned that he received his bachelor degree from The University of Texas. He went on to complete his master’s degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville and his medical degree from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He completed his internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and his pediatric training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he worked with Dr. Albert Sabin on the first polio vaccine. He completed a fellowship in child neurology at Babies Hospital of New York Presbyterian/Columbia University.
I met Dr. Gold when I was a resident at Babies Hospital and he was my attending in pediatric neurology. I had the good fortune to get to know him doing what he loved best—caring for children and families. I learned from him as he consulted on children with serious neurologic disorders—some life-threatening and many with limited treatment options at the time.
Watching Dr. Gold examine patients and interact with children and their families, I learned first-hand the powerful marriage of skillful learned clinician and compassionate heart. By example, Dr. Gold taught the art, as well as the science, of medicine. He taught us the importance of up-to-date medical knowledge to make an accurate diagnosis and how to craft a care plan. He also emphasized the value of respectful, honest communication with patients and families – how to share good news and bad, with humility and even humor.
Beloved by patients and families and admired by trainees and colleagues, Dr. Gold understood the value of symbol and ceremony, as well as the humanistic qualities of medicine, when he began the White Coat Ceremony in 1993.
One of my oldest friends served on the Gold Foundation, and I had the good fortune to cross paths with Dr. Gold over the years. I will always remember him as a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life of meaning and purpose. His values and ideals will continue to influence our profession and generations of physicians to come.
P.S. As someone who worked as a resident under Dr. Gold, I consider this a special tribute to Dr. Gold. The Gold Humanism Honor Society of the Gold Foundation is sponsoring the first-ever “Thank a Resident Day,” Feb. 23.