Dr. Angelique Schuldenfrei Campen '88

Dr. Angelique Schuldenfrei Campen '88

Currently an ER doctor at UCLA, Dr. Angelique Schuldenfrei Campen '88 has been directly caring for COVID-19 patients and sharing evidence-based pandemic information with her community.

Why did you pursue medicine?

No one in my family was in medicine. From an early age, I had a fascination with the body and I loved "blood and guts". Following social stereotypes, I remember in kindergarten drawing a picture and writing "When I grow up I want to be a nurse." Fortunately, my mother offered an alternative and said, "you know, honey, you can be a doctor, too, if you want," and off I went on that track. What sealed my decision to pursue medicine was watching my dad's concern for my grandmother when she had a stroke and wishing there was something I could do to help.

How has the pandemic affected your work in emergency medicine at UCLA?

If someone had described to me my work conditions a year ago, I would have stared at them in disbelief. There are days I feel like I'm at war on a battlefield: the unending volume of patients, the randomness of which patients fall so ill, and the early lack of knowledge regarding diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, I feared I would get sick myself or bring the virus home to my family, but fortunately, with experience and care, I was able to keep all of us safe. The public panic that ensued early in the pandemic with, oftentimes, false information was very concerning to me. In response I began a social media campaign, GlamERdoc, to disseminate evidence-based information and help educate friends and family. I'm glad the campaign was able to help alleviate fears, educate the public, and keep them safe and healthy.

What have you done to prevent burnout and to take care of yourself this past year?

When the pandemic started, I was afraid: of getting sick, of infecting my family, and afraid of not having the information necessary to help my patients. Fortunately, time brought information to help combat coronavirus. Doctors aren't used to practicing medicine without previous knowledge or experience or science guiding them. This pandemic forced us to treat so many patients without the background, confidence that certainly we were used to having, but rather using our information gathering skills, constant study, and critical thinking to make the best decisions for our patients. 

Working in the ER, I see many tragedies and unexpected illnesses. Rather than feel sorrowful or mourn with my patients, I feel grateful to have the skills to make their experience less painful, clearer, and easier. Through medicine, I get to see the most intimate times of peoples lives: when they are scared, when they are hurting, when they are relieved. I get to see true humanity! It is this experience that keeps me coming back every day.

How did Marlborough prepare you for your career in medicine?

I always say "Marlborough was the secret to my success." Marlborough empowered me to achieve anything through hard work, education, and perseverance. Nothing was off-limits or not open to me just because I was female. Marlborough instilled in me the confidence to speak my mind, tackle difficult tasks, and use any career I wished. Finally, the study skills and writing abilities I learned in Doe Langfon's European History class (the hardest class I have ever taking in my life!) made college and medical school a breeze!

What advice do you have for current students interested in pursuing healthcare?

I advise women interested in a career in medicine to understand the time and commitment it requires You truly must sacrifice your twenties to become a doctor; college, four years of residency training has you starting your "first job" when you are thirty. While my colleagues were starting their careers and families and traveling, I was pursuing my path in emergency medicine. I wouldn't change a thing though or do any part differently. It is a delayed gratification for I now have a job that is my passion together with three beautiful children, a passport full of stamps from medical missions all over the world, and a heart full from having purpose in my life.


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