P&S Journal: Winter 1997, Vol.17, No.1
Profiles In Giving: Surgeon-Philanthropist Establishes Teaching Professorship
By Peter Wortsman
"Keep your eye on the pathology! Just put out your hand and you'll get all the instruments you need if you give the proper signals!" That's Stanley Edelman'53's surgical dictum. Ever focused on the operating field, Dr. Edelman has mentored and molded scores of young surgeons throughout a long and distinguished career. Since retiring from the faculty of Lenox Hill and Mount Sinai hospitals, where he held joint appointments, he has shifted his primary focus to philanthropy and is sending signals of a different sort.
Concerned about the financial constraints of pedagogically inclined young surgeons who simply can't afford to devote their primary attention to teaching, Dr. Edelman, a devoted alumnus and class chairman, has helped provide the necessary instruments in the form of a teaching professorship at P&S that will bear his name.
As chairman of the board of directors of the Nias Foundation, he has for many years overseen the Nias Foundation Gift for Student Loans at P&S, a low-interest student loan program. Funded by the foundation and the gifts of patients and friends, the new teaching chair Dr. Edelman envisions will enable a promising junior faculty member to polish his or her pedagogical skills and thereby benefit countless students.
"Good teachers," says Edelman, "are noticeable from kindergarten up, because you know they care. You accept such persons as role models. They touch your heart, thrill your mind, and open your pores!"
At P&S, he remembers with great fondness such outstanding professors as surgeon David V. Habif'39 and the legendary anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar'33. Dr. Habif's empathy, "his understanding of just where you are in the teaching cycle and how to gently encourage you to excel," proved a pivotal influence. Dr. Apgar's hands-on teaching style, "having students feel the precise spot on her back to do a spinal tap, made learning an unforgettable pleasure," Dr. Edelman recalls.
A veteran Army Air Corps flier in World War II, Edelman survived an emergency landing over enemy lines at the Battle of the Bulge. At the time, a medical career was not yet in the cards. But "fate plays funny tricks," he smiles. In addition to his duties as bombardier, he was assigned to carry the morphine in case of injury. He administered his first injection to a wounded gunner minutes before the plane belly-landed to safety.
Dr. Edelman trained at Presbyterian, Maimonides, Bronx Municipal, and Mount Sinai hospitals and was among the pioneer surgeons at the opening of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He later joined the surgical staff and faculty at Mount Sinai and Lenox Hill.
Frequently solicited over the years as a medical consultant by the board of directors of the Nias Foundation, he was asked to join the board and later was named chairman. Among its wide range of benefactions to the City of New York, the Nias Foundation supports student aid at P&S and other medical schools and helps foster fitness through gifts to the Roadrunners Club, of which Dr. Edelman is a member.
"Empathy," says Dr. Edelman, is the link in his life between surgical teaching and philanthropy. "That and keeping your eye on the operating field!"