“I knew I wanted something critical care related because I was very hands on, I liked invasive procedures.... I thought anesthesiology was intellectually elegant and fascinating."
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Memorable Adelphi faculty: Dr. Sisti who taught organic chemistry was brilliant and funny and had the ability to teach a very difficult subject well. Dr. Justina Eisenhauer, who taught upper level nursing courses. She was very nice and never sat in an ivory tower. Economics Professor Roca, who taught me the difference between guns and butter.
Favorite course: The Italian-American Experience taught by Dr. Sal Primeggia. He had so much passion for what he taught. He was truly inspiring.
Value of Adelphi experience: Adelphi gave me a solid education. The nursing program was very strong and well respected for both its didactic and clinical components. I’m very proud to be an alumna.
Advice for Adelphi students: Follow your dreams and believe in yourself.
While Dr. Rose Zauk currently enjoys a fulfilling career as an anesthesiologist, growing up she never considered a career in medicine. “I was dissuaded from becoming a doctor,” she says. “Unfortunately this attitude was a reflection of the times, and I did not have many professional role models.”
Although she was discouraged from pursuing a career as a physician, her parents were adamant that she and her two siblings earn college degrees. Interested in a vocation in which she could provide care for others, Dr. Zauk decided on nursing and chose to pursue her studies at Adelphi. ”Adelphi had the best program,” says Dr. Zauk, who grew up in Queens, New York.
After graduating from the Adelphi University School of Nursing in 1981, she landed her first job at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. Working as a nurse in the intensive care unit turned out to be a transformative experience. “I found my core,” she says. “I loved the action, the blood and guts, the fast-paced environment. I knew then that I was a critical care person.”
In addition to finding her niche, working alongside female physicians opened her eyes to a whole new world of opportunity. “Prior to that I had never met a female physician, let alone a female surgeon,” says Dr. Zauk. Before working in a hospital setting, she did not have exposure to women who were able to juggle both very demanding professional and personal lives. For the first time she saw women maintaining both roles successfully. “They were role models for me,” she says. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘wow, women can really do this!’”
Encouraged by their example, she decided medicine was a viable career option for women, and a profession she wanted to pursue. She returned to Adelphi to seek the guidance of Dr. Warren Eickelberg, director of Adelphi’s pre-med curriculum, regarding what requirements she would have to fulfill to be eligible to apply to medical school.
Within a year, Dr. Zauk completed the necessary courses, studied for and passed the MCAT, while also managing to work as a nurse three days a week at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola. In 1987, at 28 years old, she entered medical school at UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. That same year, she married her husband.
By her fourth year of medical school, the same year she gave birth to her first child, Dr. Zauk knew anesthesiology was the sub-specialty she wanted to practice. “I knew I wanted something critical care related because I was very hands on, I liked invasive procedures,” she says. ”I thought anesthesiology was intellectually elegant and fascinating; there’s a sort of voodoo to it.”
She went on to complete her internship at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, had her second child, and began her residency in anesthesiology at New York University Hospital. She recalls the director of NYU’s residency program to be a woman before her time: ”She was a strong women’s advocate,” says Dr. Zauk. ”She fought for female residents, and made sure women were well-represented in each class.”
Following the completion of her residency in 1995, she passed her written and oral boards, and joined Northeastern Anesthesia Services, PC (NEA), where she is still practicing. NEA is one of the largest single specialty groups in the nation, and provides care at 10 hospitals, four ambulatory surgical centers, and seven office-based practices.
After 16 years of experience as a practicing anesthesiologist, “nothing scares me,” says Dr. Zauk. ”Of course there are always difficult days, but you have the confidence and skills to handle whatever case faces you. It’s just a matter of having a well-developed plan and executing it well. It’s very rewarding to manage a tough case with finesse.”
Luckily, she and her fellow anesthesiologists have created a supportive network for each other. “Senior partners, like myself, still bounce cases off each other,” she says. ”It’s an incredibly nurturing group. Everyone is there to help each other, to ensure that the patient gets through the procedure safely and comfortably.”
“There’s nothing better than when a patient wakes up at the end of a case comfortable and without pain, and looks at you and says, ‘Wow, I had a great sleep, this was terrific,’” she says. “Patient satisfaction is the biggest high.”
Today Dr. Zauk and her husband live in New Jersey, and have a daughter and son. In her free time, Dr. Zauk enjoys golf, tennis, reading and spending time with the family; at home or on vacation.
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