By: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications
Former Lehigh women's soccer standout Jordan Goodwin '15 has developed a passion for medicine.
That passion keeps her excited and energized to attack the day.
"I feel fortunate to be in a field that's important to me," she said.
After graduating Lehigh in 2015 as a biology major, Goodwin enrolled in Penn State's Physician Assistant Program. Now, she finds herself back in the Lehigh Valley, working as a physician assistant on the internal medicine team at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem – just a stone's throw from Lehigh University's campus.
"When you enter the field of medicine, you never expect the work to be easy," she said. "I feel very fortunate to work as part of a great St. Luke's team in which everybody works together.
"We're surrounded by incredible brains, and people."
Goodwin is one of those incredible people. She's had long-standing aspirations to work in medicine.
"I went into my undergraduate time at Lehigh knowing I wanted to get into some area of medicine," she said. "I did a lot of shadowing in different career paths in medicine and narrowed it down from there. I found areas I was not interested in, which is an important step in anybody's career search.
"When I began my career search, I felt connected to the physician assistant career the most," Goodwin continued. "I saw their interactions with patients and the type of medicine they were able to practice, and felt it would be where I was most successful."
After earning her undergraduate degree, Goodwin headed to Penn State's College of Medicine campus in Hershey, Pa. She had been through a lot of mental and physical tests as a Division I student-athlete, but was ready for an even bigger challenge.
"The Penn State program is 24 straight months," said Goodwin. "It's extremely rigorous. We had one year in the classroom, then the second year out on clinical rotations. It's another testament that medicine is something you have to be passionate about because it is so difficult and takes years and years of preparation.
"I feel like the academic side of Lehigh prepared me for PA school."
In 2018, Goodwin graduated with her master of science in physician assistant studies. Later that year, she accepted a job at St. Luke's.
A native of Flemington, New Jersey, Goodwin is currently working overnight as a nocturnist.
"There are two physician assistants from the internal medicine team in the hospital overnight and we answer calls," she said. "We're like the family primary care providers in the hospital. We have different floors – such as an orthopedics floor, oncology floor and cardiac floor – and we help if there are any acute (sudden onset) issues."
Goodwin, and all physician assistants, are qualified to see their own patients and conduct physical exams while prescribing treatments and medication.
"We're pretty independent, but also work alongside physicians," she said.
When looking for jobs after Penn State, Goodwin's familiarity with the Lehigh Valley made the move to St. Luke's easy.
"Some of the best memories of my life are from Lehigh, which was one of the leading factors bringing me back," she said. "With St. Luke's in particular, the hospital puts an emphasis on working as a family. When you're in medicine, it can be stressful and challenging, so to be at a place that really puts an emphasis on team makes a big difference in your career."
Teamwork is incredibly important in the field of medicine. Fortunately for Goodwin, her time as a women's soccer student-athlete gave her plenty of practice in working as a team.
"I was able to learn how to not only be an effective team member, but also a successful leader," she said. "As a physician assistant, that's what you're doing every day. You're working with different members of the health care team, but also taking care of patients, so you need to be a team player and leader. Being a student-athlete also teaches you diligence, commitment and loyalty, which translates directly to working in the field of medicine."
"Knowing Jordan and how she is always so aware and considerate of the individuals she meets, there isn't a better person to help people manage being at the hospital," said current Lehigh head coach Eric Lambinus, who also coached Goodwin. "Being one of the better leaders we've had in our program, I had no doubt she would be able to translate her skill set from our program to being a leader in her health care team at St. Luke's."
Goodwin wouldn't be where she is today without her passion for people and relationships.
"Family and friends have been a core part of who I am, and I've turned that into my career," said Goodwin. "When you're sick and you come to the hospital, that's when you're vulnerable and at your worst. I think about how I would want my own family treated, so I feel grateful to be that person who can be there for somebody in their most difficult times."
Goodwin looks to continue learning, growing and expanding her knowledge about medicine within her role as physician assistant. For someone who's consistently helping others, it's no surprise she also wants to give back.
"Eventually, I'd like to also teach in addition to practicing clinical," said Goodwin. "I feel like I've had great role models and influences on my journey, who have taught me so much and been there for me. I'd like to one day have that impact on somebody else."
Goodwin's story in itself should inspire others to follow in her footsteps. In fact, Lehigh University is in the process of creating a College of Health, which should only make it easier for Lehigh students do just that.
"At Lehigh, I felt like I had great resources, professors and coaches to get me connected," she said. "Lehigh taking that next step is amazing. There's such a growing need for health care professionals and it'll be great for Lehigh students to have that opportunity."
Being in health care is an opportunity to truly make a difference in people's lives. There is no better example than Jordan Goodwin.
"I've taken care of patients who have made a lasting impression on me," she said.
"That's what keeps me coming back."