Summum Bonum Newsletter: Highlighting Hill Alumni Healthcare Heroes
Michael Schirripa, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
St. Joseph Hill Academy Elementary School, Class of 2005
I'm currently finishing up my third year post medical school graduation and will be starting my last year of training as an anesthesia resident in July at New-York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. After medical school, I completed COVID-19 year of internal medicine at Staten Island University Hospital before beginning my anesthesia program in July of 2018.
Patients that end up being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 are usually the most ill. As an anesthesia resident, our job is to safely protect the airway and place a breathing tube (intubate). So, by the time I am seeing these patients, they are in rough shape. I've been surprised at how many people without significant medical problems are getting so seriously ill. I also have been working in the ICU for a short period of time while the hospital was at max capacity to help manage COVID patients with the critical care staff. I commend the entire staff at the hospital for working hard and doing whatever they possibly can to help. I am motivated to face the challenge because I know that I can help patients with my knowledge and skill.
I encourage young people to explore careers in medicine. My advice would be to try and get involved in some way early on - whether it be volunteering in the hospital or shadowing doctors in the community. This will give young people an idea of what medicine in practice looks like and can help encourage and foster a growing interest in the area.
Jennifer Baranello, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
St. Joseph Hill Academy High School, Class of 2005
I am a nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on an inpatient oncology unit
that treats patients with lung cancer. Our patients are at very high risk for contracting COVID-19 with complications. In preparation for an influx of patients Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Pharmacists, PAs, and other health care professionals at my institution that work in outpatient settings have been asked to help us on the inpatient side to take care of patients with COVID-19. I have had to train NPs to work on the inpatient setting- a new role for them with a short amount of time to prepare for their new responsibility. This shifting of job responsibilities can be difficult and scary for providers, however, the staff at my hospital are dedicated, flexible and willing to do whatever needs to be done to give the best possible care to our very vulnerable patients. Everyone here is up for the challenge and happy to be of service.
Working in healthcare is both emotionally and physically challenging. You are asked to take care of people during some of the worst moments of their lives and their family's lives. This present situation is not much different. Our patients are already undergoing treatment for terminal cancer and now are isolated in the hospital without their loved ones there to support them. It is our responsibility and promise to them to advocate for them and protect them during this time. As a frontline health care provider we are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 than the regular population, however, I am fortunate enough to work at a hospital that provides us with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) so that we can be reassured that our health is not at risk while we care for our patients.
For anyone considering joining the healthcare workforce, I would say that it may be one of the most physically and emotionally grueling jobs at times but there will never a day in your life that you won't be making a positive difference in someone's life. There's a sense of camaraderie amongst health care workers - we are a team and family all dedicated to helping others. And, as we've witnessed during these times, you'll always have job security no matter where you live!
George Ferzli Jr., M.D., Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery Fellow
St. Joseph Hill Academy Elementary School, Class of 2001
I completed my Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Residency in 2019. I am currently a Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery Fellow at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
My experience with COVID-19 has been implementing my medical and surgical skills to help COVID-19 patients wean off ventilators. Specifically, I apply my training in head and neck surgery to increase the chances of COVID-19 patients coming off ventilator support.
A pandemic is rare and healthcare workers are essential to overcoming this complex virus. I am motivated by my long and rigorous Catholic and Jesuit school training. I live by the motto to be a "man for others." As doctors, we take an oath to our patients and helping patients return to good health and their families is a blessing and an honor.
St. Joseph Hill Academy builds a great foundation for students to pursue their dreams. My dream was always to be a doctor and I am prouder than ever to be a part of this noble profession. My advice to young Hill students is to follow their dreams and that these dreams will come true with hard work and dedication.
Nicole Ward Lynch, Registered Nurse, Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified
St. Joseph Hill Academy High School, Class of 2005
I am a Nurse Practitioner in Radiation Oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. During the month of April, I temporarily joined a team of doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants on a medical COVID unit to help care for the surge of patients being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.
Throughout my career, I have always been motivated by a desire to help others in their time of need. It is why I chose to do what I do. COVID-19 has created many new challenges for healthcare professionals like me, but that desire remains the same. The opportunity to serve my community and make a difference in the lives of the patients and families I care for inspires me to persevere.
For students thinking about pursuing degrees in healthcare, I encourage you to explore what has inspired you to consider this career. Talk with professionals in the field, volunteer in a hospital or nursing home, and research degree programs. Healthcare offers many opportunities for a challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding career. The key to success is a true passion and commitment to the work.