Alumna on Frontline of COVID-19 Crisis as ICU Doctor

In this time of crisis, people are connecting more than ever – via social media. They are sharing information and resources, coming up with solutions to urgent problems and, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, sharing insight and reflection.

A social media post this spring by Dominican alumna Dr. Ashley Rubin ’11 reconnected her with one of her faculty mentors, bringing back good memories and a chance for reflection for both. Rubin is an Intensive Care Unit physician at Methodist Hospital in Sacramento.

Rubin is a former student – and current social media friend – with Julia van der Ryn, executive director of Dominican’s Center for Community Engagement. In the social media post, Rubin reflected on the positives in her life as she works on the frontline of the COVID-19 epidemic. Among them, being “thankful to be working in the ICU/first-line medicine work in such a crazy time for medicine. I’m seeing things we couldn’t have imagined in America. Learning new things daily.”

Rubin also remarked that these times also had brought “a pleasant reminder of the amazing family and friends I am blessed to have in my life that are constantly supporting and loving me.”

Van der Ryn immediately reached out to reconnect with her former student, praising her inspiring words and important work.

Rubin’s response was just as inspiring to her former faculty mentor.

“I am who I am because of the people that blessed and inspired me with love, knowledge, and compassion. I still have all of the books I bought for your class and those times inspired me to be who I am as a doctor and woman. Thank you for inspiring young mes in the world.”

At Dominican, Rubin’s strong desire to help others was obvious throughout her four-year education. The biology major in the School of Health and Natural Sciences made humanitarian trips and medical missions during winter and summer breaks to assist people all around the world. In her junior year, while she was studying biology in Sweden, she made a side trip to the North Pole.

Rubin’s travels took her to Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Jamaica, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and places all across America working on projects such as building huts, HIV/AIDS awareness programs, water purification seminars, or simply providing food and water to third world countries.

She also worked in collaboration with The National Park Service on various projects, including the Marine Ecosystem of Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i. She has worked as a park ranger, giving tours on the Arizona Memorial while doing posters for the new Visitors Center.

 “This is my focus in life,’ Rubin said during an interview with The Torch magazine in 2011. “To be with people I’ve never met or heard of and help them.”

After Dominican – and with a hearty letter of recommendation from van der Ryn – Rubin enrolled in the MS in Global Public Health program at the University of California San Francisco. She then earned her DO from The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

“She was an amazing student,” van der Ryn recalls. “She continues to be an amazing doctor.”

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