Heard on Campus: Dr. Amy Goldberg at the Penn State Forum

Chris Koleno
April 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Among Dr. Amy J. Goldberg's many titles, trauma surgeon was the one she used throughout her Penn State Forum speech on April 16 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

Goldberg, who works at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, laid the groundwork for her talk by using PowerPoint slides to illustrate the statistics about gun deaths in Philadelphia. Since Jan. 1, 1988, to date, gun deaths in the city are just shy of 8,500, and a person is shot every seven hours in the city. Since 2002, more than 24,000 have been shot in the City of Brotherly Love; 80 percent of those shot have been African-Americans, and 59 percent of the gunshot deaths are black men age 15 to 34. 

"Then, I would come home and sit on my couch and watch the war (Gulf War). And CNN was covering the war in Baghdad, and nobody was covering the war in north Philadelphia."

— Dr. Amy J. Goldberg, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University; and medical director of Perioperative Services at Temple University Hospital

To put these numbers into perspective, during the Gulf War, better known as Desert Storm, 148 people were killed. During that same period in Philadelphia, 472 died from gun homicides. This statistic certainly didn't go unnoticed by Goldberg.

"But what I was confused about was that I would be at work in what was a war," said Goldberg. "Then, I would come home and sit on my couch and watch the war (Gulf War). And CNN was covering the war in Baghdad, and nobody was covering the war in north Philadelphia."

While Goldberg has treated many patients during her 30-plus years of service as a trauma surgeon, years almost solely spent in Philadelphia, it was a 16-year-old gang shooting victim who changed her thought process on treating these patients. The child had come to the University of Maryland hospital in Baltimore, Maryland — where Goldberg spent one year on a trauma fellowship — with extensive internal injuries, which caused him to lose his pulse in the admitting area. Goldberg's quick actions to open him up and clamp his aorta stabilized the patient enough to allow for the life-saving surgery and Goldberg's subsequent celebration, as his doctor.

"I was like, 'Amy Goldberg, you just won the Super Bowl and where are you going? I'm going to Disneyland.' I was so proud of myself, embarrassingly proud of myself," she said.

Later Goldberg's bubble would be burst: She saw that former patient in the clinic on a Thursday and said, "Aren't you in school?" And he said, "No, I don't go to school."

It was then that Goldberg came to the realization that even though the gunshot victim was recovering from his physical injuries, he was back in the same community and the same environment.

One of the programs which grew from this realization was Turning Point, a program which counsels and assists victims of gunshot wounds to use their experience as a "turning point" in their lives. Some of the components of the program include allowing patients to watch their resuscitation on a video, a visit by a survivor, and a psychiatric evaluation. Part of the program's goal is to help reduce the incidence that a victim will retaliate. 

"I was like, 'Amy Goldberg, you just won the Super Bowl and where are you going? I'm going to Disneyland.' I was so proud of myself, embarrassingly proud of myself," she said. Later Goldberg's bubble would be burst: She saw that former patient in the clinic on a Thursday and said, "Aren't you in school?" And he said, "No, I don't go to school."

In addition to Turning Point, Goldberg spoke about some of the other programs which aim to help combat gun violence, including the Fighting Chance Project, Safe Bet Program, and Cradle to Grave.

Goldberg graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in psychology, received her medical degree from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and completed her residency in general surgery at Temple University Hospital.

Goldberg then pursued a fellowship in Traumatology and Critical Care at the University of Maryland, Shock Trauma Center. In 1993, she returned to Temple University Hospital to join the surgical faculty. She served as chief of the trauma/surgical critical-care division and medical director of the trauma program for over a decade. Goldberg was the director of the General Surgery Residency Program for 12 years.

Today, Goldberg serves as professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, surgeon-in-chief of Temple University Health System, and medical director of Perioperative Services at Temple University Hospital.

The Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the public. Tickets are $21 and include a buffet lunch. Tickets may be purchased through the Penn State id+ Office, 20 HUB-Robeson Center. For questions, call 814-865-7590 or email idcard@psu.edu. For more information and a complete list of Forum speakers, past and present, visit http://sites.psu.edu/forum/.

Last Updated April 22, 2019