From the pool to the operating room: Jennifer Brey

On a bi-weekly basis, Louisville Women’s Sports posts the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Parks & Weisberg, Realtors ® Business Profile and features a local successful businesswoman with former student-athlete experience.  To learn more about Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Parks & Weisberg, visit: www.bhhsparksweisberg.com.

If there is a specific local businesswoman that you’d like to be featured, email future suggestions to conor.revell@gmail.com. Former Eastern swimmer Jennifer Brey (now Orthopaedic Surgeon) is the subject of this week’s feature.

1) What is your athletic background (school and/or club) and education (High school-Collegiate)?

I played softball, soccer, and swam when I was very young. I was pretty much only swimming by high school, while also in band and on the academic team. I swam for Blairwood Club Swimming (now Triton) while at Eastern High School. I then swam at U of L for four years before graduating and going to medical school there. I picked up volleyball, running, and triathlon after completing my collegiate swimming career.

2) How did athletics teach you to overcome adversity in the workplace?

I think the thing that athletics taught me most was about adversity and how to cope with less than ideal outcomes. There were times in swimming when I just had a bad practice or disappointing time at competition. However, at the end of the day, I had to recognize that the only option was to try and figure out what went wrong and make the changes needed to move forward. I also realized that sometimes, I just had a bad day. The same thing applies to surgery. Sometimes I know that a procedure went perfect and other times the outcomes aren’t what I or the patient wanted. Some injuries are too severe to get a perfect outcome and it is tough for an athlete to cope with that knowledge. Complications happen and it is my job to continue to gain the experience needed to keep them at a minimum.

3) What was the most challenging point of your athletic career?

The most challenging point of my athletic career was during my freshman year at U of L. Over the winter holidays, there aren’t the same hour restrictions that there are during the semester. I very vividly remember staring at the pool right before a morning practice and wondering what I was doing there. I was completely exhausted from the previous days practices and there was a seemingly endless stretch in front of me as well. I remember thinking that my scholarship was academic and that I didn’t need to be doing this. I don’t know if I really expected myself to make it through four years of collegiate swimming. I got in and did the workout and I never really considered quitting again.

4) What has been the most challenging point in your professional career?

There have been many ups and downs of my professional career. I did seven years of training after med school and there were times when I would work 30 straight hours or 30 straight days. My intern year I had a total of 4 weekends off. Since being in practice, there have definitely been some challenges. I remember being about 35 weeks pregnant with my youngest son and operating about 14 hours in one day. I had my nurse grab a stool and I just operated while sitting for a few of those (you can do that with feet and hands). Thank goodness for years of endurance training.

5) What is your advice to young student athletes today?

My advice to young athletes would be to find something you love and pursue it to the best of your ability. Don’t do anything if it is just to please someone else. Sports should allow you to be the best you. Finding an activity or developing a skill that you can do will help with your mental and physical health the rest of your life.