Symetra Tour player Sarah Hoffman swaps sticks for scrubs

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Sarah Hoffman put away her clubs and donned her scrubs again.

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The Symetra Tour player has returned to her job as a nurse during golf’s long break to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Two months after opening her season at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Hoffman is on the frontlines of the crisis in Michigan, one of the coronavirus hot spots. She is working at the University of Michigan’s medical center in Ann Arbor, returning to the orthopedic trauma unit she worked at before making golf her full-time job. That unit is helping treat the overflow of coronavirus patients at the medical center.

The LPGA’s Zach Sepanik caught up with Hoffman about being trained to treat COVID-19 patients in a story on the Symetra Tour’s website.

“It’s like the first tee jitters at qualifying school, a certain amount of anxiety because I want to perform at the highest level—shooting under par, or taking the best care of my patients,” Hoffman said. “A patient could come in with shortness of breath, requiring supplemental oxygen. Within hours they might require intubation, in which the patient is no longer breathing on their own. If that is needed on my floor, you initiate a rapid response team — ICU nurses, a respiratory therapist and primary service doctor. Those seconds before they arrive is like you’re in slow motion while everything speeds up around you.”

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Hoffman was a standout player at Division II Grand Valley State in Michigan, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Upon graduation in 2013, she went to work as a trauma surgical nurse. She turned professional in 2016, committing to playing golf full time.

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“It’s nice to get back to this other career I chose, to gain perspective,” Hoffman said. “I feel fortunate in helping make a difference and that it allows for a steady paycheck.”

Hoffman’s skills as a nurse are expanding even as she hopes to keep expanding her golf skills.

“My floor normally staffs at 10 nurses and everyone has four patients with a charge [lead] nurse,” Hoffman said. “During the recent peak of the pandemic, Michigan Medicine implemented a safer staffing model, including general care nurses deployed to intensive care unit operations, where a majority of COVID-19 patients were. The allocation of resources meant an increased patient load for general care nurses that remained on their home units. Everyone realized we had to come together as a strong, united front to provide the best possible care for all.”