Heroic First Responder: Bronxville Graduate Dr. Robert DeJoy Print

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By Staff

Apr. 22, 2020: Bronxville graduate Dr. Robert DeJoy (Bobby, BHS '09) has always wanted to be a physician. He has always been a person oriented to the service of others, and his interest in science, fueled from a young age by his mother, steered him into medicine.

The 29-year old has spent the past seven years making that dream a reality. After graduating from Hamilton College in 2013, Bobby studied pre-med at La Salle University in Philadelphia and then went on to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  

Bobby explains that there are two types of medical degrees in the US: the MD (Doctor of Medicine), and the DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both kinds of doctors are fully licensed to practice medicine, with the primary difference being one of philosophy. The DO focuses on a "whole person" approach to healing, incorporating lifestyle, mind, and body into the practice of traditional medicine. Osteopathic physicians also receive up to 1,000 hours of specialized training in the musculoskeletal system.

After graduating from medical school in May of 2019, Bobby is now a resident in internal medicine at the Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia and ultimately wants to work full-time in the critical care setting as an intensivist, also known as a critical care physician. Einstein is a large hospital, serving the greater North Philadelphia community, and has a large team of residents that work throughout the hospital.

Although the stressors imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are tangible, no environment could better prepare Bobby for his future career. He is currently working in the Einstein ICU and in a week will move on to care for COVID-19 patients in the cardiac critical care unit of the hospital. 

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Bobby explains that COVID-19 presents a new challenge for doctors because, at this time, there exists only preliminary evidence for treatment. As a result, doctors and their teams in the ICU focus primarily on supporting the patient's critical organ systems while patients recover from the viral syndrome. At the same time, the team at the hospital keeps abreast of the new treatments that are emerging.

Bobby works six days a week for 12 to 13 hours per day. Every four weeks, he is required to take four days off. He works in a fast-paced environment. "Medicine can feel like a team sport," says Bobby, who was captain of two sports teams at Bronxville High School and played football at Hamilton College in Upstate New York. "The doctor is like the quarterback of the team,” said Bobby, "and is required to know who to consult and who to bring in to produce the best results." He also has to be consistent and reliable in his communication with the medical team and, most importantly, with patients and their families.

Bobby says that working in this kind of environment requires the ability to work under pressure, be confident, and work as a team, all skills he learned playing football. "Football has really helped prepare me for what I'm doing now," he said, “although I never would have known it then."

While there have been shortages of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Bobby feels that he is fairly well protected. He says that hospital workers, in general, feel more anxiety about going to work but that he doesn't worry too much about getting infected. He wears scrubs and an N95 mask at all times and adds a face shield when working directly with infected patients.

While at this time, there are still a lot of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and in critical care units, Bobby is confident that things will get better. He is hopeful that the many therapies in the works will provide treatments. Most importantly, however, he views a working vaccine as the ultimate therapy that will achieve a return to normalcy. 

For now, his advice is to "stay home, stay away from people, and to be sure that your information is coming from credible sources." 

Thanks, Bobby, for being a heroic first responder.



Photos courtesy B. DeJoy