Lauren Maloney, MD wears more hats than most.
She’s an attending emergency medicine physician in the Emergency Department of Stony Brook University Hospital.
She’s the new medical director for SBU’s paramedic program.
She’s the first ever University Police Department surgeon and the new medical director for the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps, both of which provide critical services in support of the mission of the Division of Enterprise Risk Management.
As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a published medical journal author and continues to serve as a practicing paramedic.
“My Mum, a pediatric burn nurse, always said to my brother and I when we were growing up, ‘Go do something good in the world.’ From the time I was a teenage candy striper in a hospital, and later on as a nursing assistant and unit secretary, that’s what drives me,” Maloney said.
Maloney’s current plethora of roles allows her to do the three things she loves most: provide top quality medical care for patients, give them huge doses of empathy and understanding, and help others gain their footing in the medical field, all in some of the most critical care settings.
Her entry into medicine started with pushing carts and making photocopies at a local hospital while she was still in high school. But the minute she stepped into the emergency room (ER) back in her candy striping days, she was hooked.
“EMS [emergency medical services] and the ER are incredible worlds of chaos and pandemonium,” she said. “You see calamity all around you, but you get to walk into that scenario and take control of the situation. I knew, from the start, that was something I definitely wanted to do. It’s terrible but amazing at the same time.”
Maloney credits her education at Stony Brook with giving her the tools to pursue her chosen career and fulfill her various healthcare provider roles. Born and bred in Plymouth, MA, she made the trip to SBU to “check it all out” in 2008 and never looked back, getting her Bachelors of Engineering in BME in 2012, her paramedic certification, and a Doctorate of Medicine with Distinction in Medical Education from the School of Medicine in 2016, never wanting to leave her newfound ‘family.’
“It’s where all the pieces of the puzzle came together for me,” she said. “Stony Brook offers that incredibly rare combination of serving as a major research and teaching hospital, right alongside a top academic institution and medical school.”
Maloney said Stony Brook also provides cutting-edge academic opportunities she wasn’t seeing elsewhere. “When I saw all the course offerings in biomedical engineering, I was like a kid in a candy store,” she said. “While a brutally hard course of study, the interdisciplinary nature of BME is wicked cool as it shows you the mechanics of how the human body functions – how the brain works and blood flows. It connects all the dots and it’s all real stuff.”
“I see a big part of my role as translating that information into language that’s understandable, relatable and relevant for the patients I’m treating,” she added. “I don’t want to talk at them; I want to have a meaningful conversation.”
Maloney said those connections are critical when you think of the circumstances. “As a paramedic, it might be 4 in the morning on someone’s worst day, when a parent is handing me their kid in their living room. That’s heavy stuff but that’s the magic of medicine when it’s done right. It involves establishing trust. And showing, and bestowing, true humanity. You can’t separate that out from the physical care you’re providing.”
Many of Maloney’s published works similarly center on novel interdisciplinary approaches to medicine, including medical device innovation and biodesign education. Other papers take a new look at emergency medicine education for EMS professionals and students. “One of my current areas of focus is adapting what we think of as traditional EMS education that emphasizes 911 calls, into more inclusive education that prepares them for future endeavors like mobile integrated health and community paramedicine,” she said.
As one of the few women in the field of paramedicine, Maloney is also eager to help underrepresented groups, like women, enter the field she’s built her life around. “I want to show, by example and through educational offerings, that perceived ‘weak’ or ‘overly feminine’ traits like being emotional or nurturing are not weaknesses … they’re great strengths.”
As Maloney embraces her current, dual roles as healthcare provider and teacher, participant and leader, she said she’s most satisfied with how “everything has come to fruition” and “full circle” from the days she was studying to become who she is today.
“I started as a paramedic to help pay for my undergraduate education and save up for medical school, and to continue a strong family tradition of public service,” she said. “I met my best friends there, people I talk to every day. People who feel more like family because you’re all part of a community of service.”
“I’ve always felt a strong responsibility to pay my good fortune forward. Now I get to help lift people up to follow the same extremely fulfilling career path as me.”
— Ellen Cooke