Yashica Shah, C’94, ENG’94

Division Chief for General OB-GYN, Ambulatory Care Director, and Associate Program Director for the Residency Program, St. Peter’s University Hospital

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Biological Basis of Behavior and Bioengineering Major

There’s no typical day for an OB-GYN. You could be in the operating room doing gynecological surgery. You could be delivering a newborn and handing that baby to the mom to hold for the first time. You could be in an outpatient setting, or in an office talking to somebody about the most delicate moments of their life.

On top of that, the pandemic has shifted things. A lot of people were not coming in for things that they should be coming in for. Routine check-ups were postponed. People who were coming into the hospital were very, very sick. The people who needed to be in the hospital because they were having babies were very anxious, because they were worried about whether their baby could catch COVID, whether they could catch it. So many other thoughts that went through their heads. And there were times when we couldn’t even allow support people in the labor room, because we didn’t know enough about this new disease. Once we got more and more information, we started improving the conditions for everybody, including the patients, physicians, nurses, and all the people that work at the hospital. But in the beginning, nobody knew what to expect because we didn’t understand the transmission or know how to optimally treat the patients.

The most meaningful moment in my career was a few years ago. I had a patient who was very, very sick and I tried really hard to help her for many hours. And then I had to make a decision about a serious treatment decision in the middle of the night. It was 4 a.m. and I called two of my closest surgical friends. I’ve operated with them on multiple occasions and knew I they were people I could rely on. They didn’t think twice: They woke up in the middle of the night, even though they were not on call, and they scrubbed in with me for the procedure. We ended up saving the patient’s life. I felt such support. Now, I don’t think twice about relying on other people—help is always around and it’s not a sign of weakness to ask.