We had the good fortune of connecting with Tammy Dorfman, MPH, MMS, PA-C and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tammy , we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe most people would not want to head to work everyday if their life was at risk, or they risked bringing something deadly home to their children or elderly parents. Sure every job has risks. Most people join the army thinking they will never go to war, and if a war erupts, they won’t be on the front lines. Unfortunately working healthcare during this unprecedented time poses higher risk, not just to oursleves, but to our families as well. As a Physician Assistant working in the Memorial Healthcare System for 18 years, I have an obligation to help patients. I am part of a team that has a skillset to save lives. I go to work along side a group of heroes i call my co-workers and we can not stay home. I do not consider myself a risk taker. I do not look at my job as just a paycheck or a way to pass the day. It is a very scary time to be a healthcare worker. I look at my career as a life time committment to taking care of patients as part of a team approach. Now more then ever we need everyone in the medical community to come together and take care of each other.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am a Physician Assistant. Physician Assistants practice medicine with the supervision of a Physician. We work in a wide range of areas including doctors offices, hospitals, and outpatient centers. We are trained to diagnose illness, order and interpret tests, develop and manage treatment plans, and prescribe medication, PAs practice in every state and are very versatile. Fortunately I am one of the lucky practitioners whos work has not been severely impacted. To the detriment of both patients and providers, it turns out just caring for COVID-19 patients is not going to keep hospitals in business. They are quickly burning through cash reserves and will need continuous bailout by the goverment to remain operational throughout this pandemic. Some of these cuts are already happening with reduced hours, salaries, and cutting out bonuses for 2020. I work for myself providing Physician Assistant services to medical practices. I help surgeons and their practices take care of patients and assist in surgery. I help in many areas of the surgical procedure including pre-op, intraoperative, and post-op help. I am like a bridge between the patient and the surgeon. I have been in the business of working for myself since 2003. As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed all elective cases have been halted for now. This is a lot of my work however I also work for a company called Advancing Practitioners where I am employed through them providing the same type of services. We have been working in shifts, alternating days, to minimize everyones exposure. There are still a number of urgent/emergent surgeries that need to get done. There are many issues surrounding healthcare, hospitals, and healthcare workers at this time. There are so many issues with everything during this time. I am thankful everyday for my health and the health of my family. My likehood of dying is statistically more plausible then I had previously imagined. I have seen death and dying patients many times over. I have done CPR and chest compressions until my hands were numb. I have sewed up the chest of deceased patients so their family can bury them.I stuck myslef with needles from patients failing around. I’ve had to hold it together while my surgeon tells a family their loved one has passed. I have taken care of my co-workers who were infected with Covid-19. I have suddendly become everyones primary care provider regarding Coronavirus and will give my best advice based on the recommendations that are circulating. I will strip off my faceshild and mask, and wipe it down so I can use it again. I will get naked outside my front door and then scrub my body relentlessly with hot water and soap just in case any virus may be lurking on my body. Yet I will still head into the hospital everyday that I’m needed and do the best possible job that i can. Thats what we do!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well we have been on lockdown for the last few weeks: On my days off, I enjoy spending time with my 3 children. I have to balance being a single mom to twin 12 year old boys, and a 7 year old girl. Our days in quarantine are filled with home school, bike rides, walking our golden doodle Salem, and lots of swimming in our pool. We have planted a garden, done lots of spring cleaning, and even made tik tok videos. We are professionals with zoom and have dance parties in the living room. Its actually been a pleasant change to slow down our busy lives. I also spend time reading articles and new studies regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. I try to keep up to date on treatment guidlines and read about repurposed medication, possible benefits and potential side effects. Every day things are changing and the plethora of information is interminable and overwhelming. I try to read updates from the CDC and updates from our hospital system regarding testing and I follow several social media sites where collegues share their experiences, good and bad.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Although I have worked with many great surgeons over the years, all have taught me various skills, I have to say that Arthur Palamara will always be a name that stands out. Dr. Palamara helped me get my start. After graduation in 2002, I struggled to find a job. Even with a masters degree in Public Health and a masters in medical science I found it difficult. With the help of Arthur Palamara I started a company. He credentialed me with the hospital, let me work with him, and taught me how to survive on my own. He showed me that if you want something you have to go and get it. No one is going to hand you anything. He taught me to work harder then my peers. He has been and still is today a great mentor. He leads by example and I’m forever greatful for the lessons he teaches me. Working in an operating room can be a volitile enviroment. It is not for everyone.