An Interview with Jay Feldman

When Jay Feldman learned of the recent shooting attacks at his former high school, it sent shockwaves through his system. Here, we sit down with Jay and discuss how a tragedy like this can affect one’s emotional state, even across the country.
Tell us about you, Jay.

My name is Jay Feldman I graduated MSD in 2010. While I was there I was extremely involved in student government, I was the captain of the men’s volleyball team, and an honors student. I went to undergraduate at UF in Gainesville and then started medical school in New York City in 2015. I am now in my 3rd year of medical school and have been working in the hospital all year. I am currently working in Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

Have you ever experienced anything like this before? 

I never thought I would ever experience something like this. I had friends in Las Vegas at the time of the mass shooting but none of my friends were injured. But at my high school, you would never think it was possible. This is a town that is a complete stranger to gun violence. It has been an eye-opening and mobilizing experience for all who live and once lived there.

What was it like on the day?

The day that this happened I was working at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC with Dr Shanna Levine. I was with a patient taking her history when suddenly my Apple Watch starting vibrating uncontrollably. Several minutes after silencing the messages, unknowing of what they contained, I finally peeked down in horror. “Coach Feis was shot” said my friend. Trying to hold it together, I finished the exam and stepped out of the room. I read through hundreds of messages contained in a group chat with all of my high school friends. I was in shock. Dr Levine, who I actually met when she was a teacher at MSD, was in a similar state of shock. We sat together briefly before she relieved me of duty for the day and sent me home. My friends and I were extremely involved in our respective high school groups. We needed to do something to help. We decided to raise money for the victims & families by selling T Shirts to honor those that lost their lives. I spent the rest of Valentines day developing a fundraising website, one of my other friends designed the T shirt we would later sell.

What effect in your opinion does this have on Nurses, I.e compassion fatigue.

The state that Dr Levine and I were in following this tragedy was not one compatible with treating patients. This sort of horror puts a huge emotional burden on everyone, but especially those connected with potential victims or locations. The cloud of fog that followed the knowledge of this event disabled me for days – all I could do was try to work to help in some way. Dr Levine gave me the following day off, and I know several other medical workers that faced similar conditions.

There is something to be said about the compassion fatigue that healthcare workers face on a daily basis. We are constantly building attachments to our patients, who often are in debilitating pain and may pass away under our care. It is difficult to deal with, so many healthcare workers avoid creating these bonds and even dissociate their emotions from the job completely. However, some of the best ones fight through this compassion fatigue and use their emotions to make them better healthcare providers.

What do you think we need to do as a country to combat this?

Next month I will be bussing down to DC to March against gun violence. There is no argument that there are flaws in our legal system regarding firearms. The mass shooting at Columbine happened almost 20 years ago and since then our parents have failed us in controlling gun violence. As our generation takes over the white house, we need to push obvious changes to the current system, such as screening for firearm purchases and a ban on assault rifles. What we can do right now is be vocal. I am using my position as a social media influencer to help spread this message about gun violence and I hope others follow suit.

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