USA Field Hockey NEWS Leading Leopards: Ab...

Leading Leopards: Abbey Stefanides

July 01, 2020, 3:58 p.m. (ET)

Content Courtesy of Lafayette Athletics is highlighting former Leopards in the healthcare fields, many of whom are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abbey Stefanides '16
Physician Assistant in a post-graduate Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fellowship | CHOP in Philadelphia

I am currently a Physician Assistant Resident in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (commonly known as CHOP). After graduating from Lafayette in 2016, I took a year and worked as a nursing assistant at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on the neurology/neurosurgery floor. That time allowed me to have additional health care exposure and maturity for graduate school. From there, I began my PA career journey by attending graduate school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. I completed 14 months of didactic training and 12 months of clinical preceptorship before graduating with a master's degree in Health Science in Physician Assistant Studies in July 2019. I passed my boards, which credentialed me as "Certified." From there, I began a one year residency program in November 2019 with CHOP in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This residency, while not required for the PA profession, allows me to have additional training in a sub-specialized area of medicine, an "apprenticeship" if you will. I have spent the past six months in two Level III, community hospital NICUs where I managed very premature and low birth weight infants, and have recently transitioned to the CHOP's Level IV NICU.

My time as a student-athlete is something I will cherish forever, and I believe has defined me in so many aspects. I chuckle affectionately thinking of the various workshops I attended while at Lafayette on topics such as, time management, organizational skills, and most importantly how to work efficiently as a team. Those opportunities provided me with the building blocks to form a firm foundation to find success today. The team environment is especially important in healthcare setting as every person has a role, and each role is vital to providing the best care to our patients. Sound familiar? Whether it be the nurses who provide hands-on care 24 hours a day, to the phlebotomist who draws vital labs, to environmental services who clean every surface to help protect our babies from outside germs, and the list truly goes on. The point is that each person impacts the care of the patient, and when everyone is contributing 100 percent, the patient's care thrives.

Fortunately, my area of medicine is one that COVID-19 has yet to directly impact. That being said, there were times of visitation restrictions, and I know that was especially difficult for our patients' families. It's one thing to have to leave your baby in the hospital, but having stricter visitation policies on times that could be spent with their sick kid weighed heavily on them. A factor that did add stress to the NICU was the possibility of a ventilator shortage. We often have babies on various types of ventilators, especially the very premature infants. We were fortunate enough to not have to activate our contingency plans, but there were times where we (ironically) held our breath. As we all know this is a very fluid situation, things change daily, and often hourly. That being said, as student-athletes we are all so skilled at adapting our game plan, and doing so quickly and with composure. While the changes may have impacted how I interact with my patients and families, I adjusted and moved on accordingly.

My message and wish for my fellow Lafayette alums is that during this time of adversity, we use our camaraderie and team mentality to be smart and safe to stay healthy. The year of 2020 has started out as a rough half, full of twists and turns that none of us expected or imagined. Our scouting report on Coronavirus was off, but now its halftime. We have collected ourselves, made changes, and now we are doing better. We, as a nation and a team, need to stick to the game plan. While states and cities open up, we need to remember the fundamentals. While it may not be fun to wear a mask in public, do it to protect your teammates, your family, and the others around you. Continue to wash your hands, even when you think they aren't dirty. And always check in with those around you, FaceTime or text to say "hey, checking in." A little can go a long way. If we carry out our halftime adjustments, and execute them properly, I think we can come out on top in the second half.

As for the seniors, I applaud you. I can't imagine having my senior season, which was the last time I played competitively, to have been canceled. My heart aches for you and your families. Those are moments you won't get back, but that shouldn't discount all of the other accomplishments you made. As a Lafayette Leopard alum, I can assure you that you will find success because of the building blocks and foundation that were instilled in you by the Lafayette athletic community. Congrats and Good Luck!

Abbey Stefanides '16 was a four-year member of the Lafayette field hockey program, playing in 32 career games as a midfielder/defender. She graduated in 2016 with a degree in Biology after serving as the Patriot League's national representative on the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.