"What do you think your patients appreciate most about you?"
There was a distinct pause following the relatively standard question, at least when you're interviewing a physician. A conventional answer was certainly the expectation.
Dr. Adriana Schaufelberger's answer was anything but.
"I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm funny," she said. "I try to make things lighter and take any embarrassment out of it. And there's no shyness here. Tell me what you're thinking. Out with it. Go for it. And that's where we'll both laugh. I think that's a big thing."
Thus begins a discussion with the board-certified OB/GYN, someone who truly loves every part of part of her interactions with patients at Women's Care of Wisconsin.
The ability to connect is clearly a strength of Schaufelberger's. Her patients feel this in their first visit and understand in short order one of her essential mantras.
"I'm not about rushing. I don't like to be rushed. I don't like to rush my patients," said Schaufelberger. "My routine is to come into the room, sit down, and then . . . we talk. And if you cry, there's a good chance I'm going to cry with you."
Schaufelberger loves to talk and is laser focused on chatting about patient care, yet she does sprinkle in the personal: she's an identical twin, first generation Hispanic, who worked 40 hours a week while taking full credit loads to earn her two degrees.
"I started out in nursing school, getting into Purdue's nursing program by accident. I didn't apply for it, but I was in. So I took it as an omen," said Schaufelberger.
She loved everything about nursing ("I was good at it too!") but a nudge from her mentor put her on a different path. She was told quite simply that she should go to medical school. Her response was perhaps typical of a different era.
"I'm a girl. I can't be a doctor," was her reply.
After a sideways glance accompanied by a "Seriously!" and then a more benevolent "Of course you can!", Schaufelberger set her sights on a new career.
"And when I graduated from med school, my mentor walked me across the stage," she said.
Schaufelberger veers once more into the personal, acknowledging that she's obsessed with her children and loves her dog way, way too much. And she talks about her father, a pipe fitter, who when he got injured looked to his daughter to take care of things.
She shifts gears, returning to the topic of her patients, the conversation accompanied by the clatter of pots and pans. The interviewer notes this.
"Oh, I'm multi-tasking. I need to be busy or I don't do well," said Schaufelberger. "But as I was saying, I'm old, I'm relatable, I'm not intimidating, I don't scare people, and maybe that's why people I don't know connect with me. Because I can talk to them."
This segues into a nice little discussion about a shoulder injury that took Schaufelberger out of action for five months.
"All I could think about was seeing my patients," she said. "I love them all."
One of the patients who acutely felt the pain of Schaufelberger's shoulder injury was Morgan Bonnell, who became a patient following a recommendation.
"It was very important to me when I switched that I click with my new provider and feel an immediate sense of trust. Within, oh, about 20 seconds of meeting her, I knew she was incredible," said Bonnell. "She literally pulled out a piece of paper, we went through every one of my concerns, wrote them down and said, 'This is our plan for this' and 'This is our plan for that.' She was listening. I knew I was in good hands."
In the eighth month of Bonnell's pregnancy, Schaufelberger admitted she would not be able to deliver the baby because she needed a procedure to repair her shoulder.
"It was instant tears for me, and she was tearing up too," said Bonnell. "But she said she was still going to be there for me. And she was true to her word-any time I needed her or her reassurance, she was just a phone call or text away."
Schaufelberger ends with the importance of a welcoming atmosphere, one with the power to create an immediate connection that can lead to a lifelong bond.
"Okay, I admit that I really want you to like me when you come in. But more significant is that you feel safe and secure, so you can be honest and ask whatever needs asking, and we can be friends."
She's also the kind of person who delivers lasagna when someone's sick.
That speaks volumes, and perhaps explains the ambient kitchen din.
Dr. Adriana Schaufelberger sees patients at Women's Care of Wisconsin locations in Neenah and Waupaca. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Schaufelberger, please call or text 920.729.7105.