Class of 2020: Josie Dudzik, MSCN’20

Nutrition Graduate Jumps into New Job in Midst of Pandemic

Josie Dudznik in lab coat against a wallShe graduated in January, passed her registered dietitian exam in February, and the following month, began work at a hospital in Brooklyn-in one of the nation’s earliest pandemic hot spots.

Josie Dudzik, MSCN ’20, was assigned to a new auxiliary coronavirus hospital. While she took every precaution to stay healthy and well, her office was in an open COVID-19 unit, and she rode the crowded subway to work.

By early April, symptoms of lethargy, fatigue and headaches appeared, and she tested positive for COVID-19.

“It was a pretty rough ten days,” she said.

But it didn’t stop her from working.

“I was able to work from home by getting charting software on my home computer and calling my patients and staff,” she said.

“When you work in an ICU, you see so many people who are worse off. And, I had a strong feeling of not wanting to abandon my patients and co-workers.”

At the end of two weeks, she returned to the hospital, NYU Langone in Brooklyn, where she has been working to find ways to nourish patients who are too weak or ill to eat, or couldn’t risk plunging oxygen levels if their masks came off for food.

“There were people not eating for days. Some had horrible GI symptoms. It was up to us to find ways to feed these patients, when we had really no research to go off for COVID-19,” she said.

She did tube feedings and IV nutrition for patients who were sedated or intubated, and worked with speech pathologists to modify diet textures.

“I’ve only been working two months, and when I look back, it seems unbelievable. I haven’t seen my parents or siblings in almost 60 days,” she said. “It’s been a little brutal. But if this is the hardest thing I face in my career, I am very happy to come out on the other side having been able to help people.”

Josie, who is in the first graduating class of the entry-level MSCN future model degree program, said the program helped to prepare her as she scrambled to learn about the disease. She said she had done a lot of research on topics related to new diseases, which helped her to find credible information on the novel coronavirus.

Her sense of wanting to help didn’t end after she went back to work two weeks after she was diagnosed as sick – she then donated convalescent plasma to help others who are sick fight off the disease