Member Spotlight: Jennifer Axelband, DO, FACOEP, FCCM

By Amy Kuyken posted 02-26-2024 09:34


Jennifer Axelband, DO, FACOEP, FCCM, is a physician at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. She has been actively involved with the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) since 2005 and with the Osteopathic Medicine Section, serving as the 2023 and 2024 chair. In her free time, you will find her gardening, and providing care for rescue animals. Her clinical interests include neurology, sepsis, and organ donation and education. She reflects on the current challenges in critical care and her career. 

Why do you love being in critical care? 
Critical care challenges you to push harder, investigate more, and engage in the practice and art of medicine. Everything you do makes a difference in saving a patient’s life.

How did you get into critical care?
Accidentally. I started my training in emergency medicine and found I always gravitated to the sickest patients. There were no emergency medicine (EM) critical care fellowships, and very few programs accepted EM physicians. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who looked beyond the box and started a program for EM physicians. Today, that program is a surgical critical care fellowship that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and dedicates two positions to EM and two to surgeons.

What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care? 
Work-life balance and the lack of an accepted shift work model versus a salaried position versus a hybrid position. There is so much variability in how you can be hired and contracts that can lead to situations where clinicians may be taken advantage of.

What advice do you have for those starting their critical care careers?
Pursue what you are passionate about. Your professional happiness should be balanced with your personal happiness.

What are the top advances in critical care since you started your career?
Everything in neurocritical care. I am biased because I practice neurocritical care. This subspecialty wasn’t recognized as a specialty when I started my career in critical care. The advancements in this field have been amazing. Sepsis recognition and the Surviving Sepsis Campaign is another focus of critical care that has made tremendous changes in patient care and outcomes.

What is your biggest professional achievement? 
Behind-the-scenes work to gain American Osteopathic Association (AOA) boarded EM physicians a pathway to board certification via the AOA for all fields of critical care, as well as work with the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties to recognize the eligibility of AOA physicians to sit for the neurocritical care examination and obtain certification.

What industry trends excite you about the future?
Noninvasive monitoring for hemodynamic and neurologic care.

What do you love about SCCM membership? 
The people connections, personal and professional. They have allowed me to achieve goals I never thought possible.