Meet Stephanie: Jewish Medical Professional of the Week

by Allison Friedman / June 24, 2020

Stephanie Cardace is a physician assistant helping COVID-19 and cancer patients, community volunteer constantly seeking out ways to make a difference, and spiritual soul-searcher exploring her newfound connection to Judaism.

P.S. Want to nominate your friend to be Jewish Person of the Week? Submit your nomination here.


Allie: What brought you to the NoVA area?

Stephanie: I was born in Falls Church and went to PA school in Philly. When I graduated, I got a job as a Physician Assistant at INOVA-Fairfax Hospital. I currently work in the surgery department where I work in surgical oncology helping cancer patients. 

Allie: How has COVID-19 impacted your job?

Stephanie: Initially it caused us to cut back our hours since they stopped elective surgeries, and they staggered our teams so that there were less people working in the hospital at one time. After about a month and half of that, I was asked to work on a COVID-19 unit at the hospital. I have been on the COVID Intermediate care unit working night shifts since the end of April.

Allie: What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding part of that work?

Stephanie: The most challenging part has been the unknown. Also, I’m used to working with a team during the day, and at night I’m responsible for patients and might be only one of the few people there to help. Having to make quick decisions without the clinical support I’m used to is definitely challenging. The most rewarding part of the experience is that the nurses, advanced practice providers, and critical care doctors that I work with at night are some of the most astounding people. They are so dedicated to helping the patients and helping each other. They are just very kind people.

Allie: What strategies have you been using to cope during the pandemic?

Stephanie: Lots of FaceTiming and talking on the phone with people during walks.

Allie: I heard you also spent some of your free time helping get PPE to medical workers. Tell me about that!

Stephanie: My incredible friend and one of the residents is an artist and she and her family made masks and shields made out of sterile material. We sent masks all over the country to people who needed it in March and April. 

Pic of masks from @cardacs

In my free time, I’ve also been working as the DC chapter leader for Frontline Foods, which is an organization started by World Central Kitchen that feeds both frontline workers, and people facing hunger in communities across the country. Definitely reach out to me if you want to know more about this or help. Recently, I got involved with an organization called Fruitful Planet whose mission is to bring fruits and vegetables to underserved communities. Right now, if you donate $8 to them through the link in my Instagram, that will buy a frontline hospital worker cold-pressed juice and $1 of that will also support feeding neighbors in DC/NoVA who need it. 

Allie: It seems like giving back is very important to you.

Stephanie: Definitely. Over the years, through my volunteering, I’ve learned how to fundraise. You don’t realize what an impact you can make with a very simple donation. Whether that’s a donation of your time, your money, or something else. Volunteering an hour to help feed those experiencing homelessness, giving your winter coat to those who don’t have one, or donating money to an organization that needs it can make such a difference. If I can add one more hour to my week to help out, I will because if we don’t take care of our communities, who will?

Allie: Did your Jewish values influence your giving values at all?

Stephanie: Not really. I grew up much more culturally Jewish, and celebrated Jewish and Christian holidays at home because my mom is Jewish, but my dad is not. I didn’t really bring any of the religious aspects of Judaism into my life until after college and started joining Jewish groups in DC, like 2239’s 12 Jewish Questions, GatherDC’s Giving Circle, and classes with the EDCJCC. So my sense of giving came before my sense of belonging to the Jewish community. 

stephanie travel

Quarry Rock in Vancouver

Allie: What would be your dream [pre- or post- pandemic] day be in NoVA?

Stephanie: In the morning I’d go to the Arlington Farmers Market in Courthouse and work out. I’d have lunch at my favorite restaurant Oyamel and then go see a matinee at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. I’d finish with a game night with friends.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Stephanie: Friendships and bonds are made that bring happiness to their community.





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