A native of the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, Dr. Yael G. Schonfeld moved to Baltimore eight years ago and says she really likes what she sees – and hears.
Dr. Schonfeld knows all about hearing. She is a clinical audiologist with the Owings Mills-based Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat. She received her clinical doctorate in audiology from Towson University and her bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, N.J. Dr. Schonfeld is certified by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association and is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.
Before coming to Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat full-time in May of 2016, Dr. Schonfeld worked as an audiology intern at the University of Maryland Medical Center and in the Baltimore City Public Schools system. She lives in Cheswolde with her husband, Sam Goldstein, and their two children, Gabby, 5, and Ari, 1. The family belongs to Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue.
Jmore: What drew you to the field of audiology?
Dr. Schonfeld: I worked at Camp HASC [Hebrew Academy for Special Children] in upstate New York and knew that I wanted to do something in the therapies. As an undergraduate, I took an audiology class with Dr. Joe Danto [professor emeritus of speech pathology and audiology and chair of speech and hearing sciences at Stern College for Women in New York] and I said, ”I want to do what you do.”
Did you have a personal interest in audiology as well?
Yes, my dad has a lot of hearing loss and it was a struggle to communicate. But I just really wanted to help people. It’s all about quality of life. That’s my life and focus.
What’s the best part of your job?
I get to really spend quality time with my patients and their families, and build relationships with them. I really love that part of the job. I enjoy being able to give my patients the gift of hearing.
What’s your specialty?
Tinnitus and vestibular assessment. In particular, I love dealing with tinnitus patients because I get to see a huge difference with them from start to finish. It’s very rewarding.
People think of tinnitus and just write it off as something with no cure or treatment, but patients just need to work one-on-one with someone who truly understands the pathology and implications of tinnitus. It is also vitally important that the patient get the get the education they need about the anatomy of the ear.
But there’s no cure, right?
There’s no cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments that work for many patients. What really helps is bringing back stimulation and sound, because your brain has something to focus on, like the sound of the ocean.
So what brought you to Charm City, aka Smalltimore?
We were living in Far Rockaway, N.Y., and came here to visit my best friend, Lauren Schleifer, and we really liked the feel of Baltimore. For one thing, it wasn’t New York! [Laughs]
What do you like about Baltimore?
It has a small town feel, but has a large, supportive community. I like Baltimore’s diversity, in the Jewish community itself and in the city as a whole. I really like it here and have no intention of moving. I love the community feel and we absolutely love our shul, Ner Tamid. I also really like that Baltimore has a great art scene and a lot of really amazing organizations.
Baltimoreans have a longtime rep for being cliquey. Would you agree?
No, I find people here are very warm and inclusive. Of course, my introduction to the community was through Ner Tamid, and that really helped. Also, I had a leg up because my best friend was here. But no, I don’t find people in Baltimore cliquey at all.
Do you have a favorite spot in Baltimore to hang out?
Definitely, the Walters Art Museum. I’ve been going there with my daughter since she was little.
Why the Walters?
I love the art there, and I just love the architecture.
Do you see any similarities and differences between Baltimore and your hometown, Cleveland?
Well, both are kind of suburban, but it’s more rural over there. You can bump into someone Amish if you drive about an hour away from Cleveland. Also, it’s harder to get a job in Cleveland.
What are your hobbies?
I like to volunteer, for our synagogue and with the Baltimore Shabbat Project. I’m involved in a lot of things. For example, I volunteer every December 25th for Mitzvah Day at the JCC. In 2017, I was a table captain coordinator for the Baltimore Challah Bake.
Last good book you read?
I love Mitch Albom’s books. I loved [Albom’s 2003 novel] “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.”
What would your patients be surprised to learn about you?
[Laughs] Maybe that I love planning birthday parties. I don’t why, but I just really enjoy it. I’m right now planning a rock ‘n’ roll party for my son. I’d love to be a party planner in another life. Also, I love to make people laugh.