Marcin Jankowski, DO '05


January 9, 2019

Trauma Program Medical Director, Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photograph of Marcin Jankowski, DO '05, in his scrubs in a hospital room.“This job takes a toll. You have to assume that every patient that rolls through the front door is going to die. It is my job to make sure they don’t.  . . . When you receive a patient with devastating injuries that they should die from, and you and your team save that patient, it’s one of the greatest feelings, ever. But to tell a family that their loved one has passed—that’s the lowest of the low. Though the words are coming out of your mouth as you educate the family about what happened, it’s the human aspect of it that never gets easier. No one teaches you this in medical school. You think about it driving home. You think about it at night. From the beginning to the end, you think of all the things you did, and the things you didn’t do. Were your actions all correct? You also have to realize that you are a human being—that the folks you work with, the folks you treat and their families—they are all human beings. You have to realize that every member of your trauma team is doing his or her best, every single time.  . . . As trauma surgeons, we often work 24-hour shifts, which makes the job physically and psychologically demanding. Twenty-four hours, on your feet, doing rounds, in the trauma bay, operating, seeing patients. These patients are often young adults who may have had an accident while riding a bike or driving a car. They could be severely injured and bleeding to death. Then comes the time when you have to talk to the family, who, just a few minutes ago, had a son or daughter who was just fine, who isn’t fine at all right now. It’s constant. And it’s emotionally draining.  . . . I need to refuel, refill my buckets—that’s what I say all the time. I replenish by maintaining balance in my life.  . . . There was a time during my surgical training and my early career that my job was all that I thought about and focused on. I gained a lot of early success; however, I ignored the rest of my buckets. Now, I spend time with the love of my life, my family, my friends. I spend quality time with my boys, ages 8 and 11; their needs and passions tend to balance things quickly because they make me realize what’s truly important. I also work out; I swim, I run, I climb, I ski. I listen to music. I also have my religion. I grew up Roman Catholic; my spiritual and my religious roots remain a profound part of my life.  . . . I am cognizant of the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of my life. Each is a bucket; I look within to track which is full or empty. When one nears empty, I fill it. I replenish each one by giving it the attention, time, energy and effort it requires.  . . . It is important to decompress and disconnect from the everyday world. It is a must. For me, it took several unfortunate events in my life to finally force me to pause and reflect. By doing so, I came to understand the significance of keeping all my buckets full.”