In the field of emergency medicine, Dr. Laura Rau counts herself among the lucky.
That’s because when Rau finished her residency at Rhode Island Hospital in 2009 and began sending out her resume, she knew that not every job opportunity would be the same.
To land in the Emergency Department at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, she says, has been an amazing opportunity.
For three years now, she has worked with young doctors and seasoned veterans, unflappable nurses and technologists, and a wide variety of consulting specialists, all who bring to the inherent chaos of emergency medicine a multifaceted level of professionalism.
“There’s a level of cooperation here that you just don’t see everywhere,” Rau says. “All our consultants and specialists are very responsive whenever you need help. And the leadership here – with Dr. Oliver Mayorga and our nurse manager, Nicole Porter – they’re fantastic assets. Their levelheadedness keeps us all on even keel amid all the chaos we encounter and try to wrangle on a daily basis.”
Beyond the immediate care in the Emergency Department, Rau says L+M offers an array of services to its patients that are not often seen in the “community hospital” setting, such as a neurosurgery department, ob/gyn services that include the region’s only Newborn Intensive Care Unit; Ear, Nose and Throat specialists, and a cardiac catheterization lab with the region’s only emergency PCI program for heart attack victims.
“It’s something I think the community should be really proud of,” Rau says. “For a community hospital, it’s rare to have those resources, and to have such good relationships with all those services. We have a level of resources and different teams to call upon that typically you would only see at more of an academic center.”
Beyond both the human resources and technological resources at L+M, Rau, who holds a medical degree from the University of Rochester in upstate New York, says she loves emergency medicine because: “You never know what you’re going to see or find, and I like that.”
Asked if she finds her job unique, stressful, intense or rewarding, Rau answered: All of the above.”
“In emergency medicine,” she says, “you get to see so many different types of people from all walks of life, and they’re coming in with the most interesting stories, which of course we don’t circulate outside of the patient care area, but they come in with life experiences that few people ever imagine themselves in, and you’re there to help them during some of the worst moments of their life, and to make it better. There’s something powerful to be said for that.”
Rau said it is a challenge to meet people in a time of crisis and form a relationship within minutes, and getting the patient to trust the doctor’s advice. She said there are often sad moments, frustrating moments, happy moments, “and really funny moments… A sense of humor is a requirement here, otherwise you can’t do this job,” she says.
“If you’re too serious, it’s hard to come to a place of humility and really understand where people are coming from,” Rau says. “If you’re too stiff or proper, you’re going to make the patient uncomfortable.”
And, beyond medical care, Rau says that humility and a sense of shared humanity is critical to her relationship with each patient. “Part of being an ER doctor is making people feel comfortable in their own humanity and the things that they’ve done or had happen to them. No matter what your predicament, we’re here to be a source of support.”
When she’s not on duty, Rau says she enjoys working in her garden in North Stonington, “trying to reclaim it from the poison ivy,” and spending time with her husband and her two puppies, Bonnie, a corgi, and Bones, an Australian shepherd.
She also likes to cook, adding, “I make really good lamb chops.”
To learn more about Dr. Rau, click here.