Growing up as a passionate gymnast, Dr. Julia Schaffer knew sticking the landing and keeping her balance were critical to success in the sport. Today, as a neonatologist, these same principles guide her efforts in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus where she’s firmly rooted in caring for the tiniest patients and helping parents support their newborn’s care plan.
Where did you grow up? Roanoke, Virginia
What’s the 1 thing you miss most about being a kid? Naps.
What did you want to be when you were little? I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but later realized the human side of medicine was a better fit. When I started medical school, I knew I wanted to be in pediatrics because I enjoy kids and wanted to help them. When I did my residency, I fell in love with the NICU and it’s been a great fit for me ever since.
What was your favorite childhood toy? I was a very passionate gymnast so I loved my trampoline and gymnastics mats. I really got hooked on gymnastics after watching a practice session for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. I competed in the sport from ages 12-17 and then did some coaching and judging for it.
What’s your favorite TV show right now? My all-time favorite TV show is Friends. I’m currently watching Designated Survivor.
Favorite food? Butternut squash soup…I have a really good recipe for it but I also like Panera’s recipe so I go there as often as I can to get it.
First concert: I’m not sure what my first concert was but my favorite would probably be Sugarland or Casting Crowns.
Do you follow a sports team? I follow all the Pittsburgh teams, especially the Steelers.
What was your first paying job? I was a gymnastics coach through high school and college.
Do you have a quote/mantra to live by? Mathew 22- 37, 39…Love your neighbor as yourself.
Who do you admire most and why? My dad. He was also a physician, but beyond that he’s the most caring and helpful man I’ve ever met. Even though I’m grown now I swear he still knows everything.
What couldn’t you live without? Probably my phone. It has everything on it – my pictures, contacts, music. My family pictures are a main feature on my phone.
If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be and why? CS Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis) because he’s an incredible thinker. Or, I would invite the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Those 3 guys (Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie) are so funny! I love the show.
What’s something people may not know about you? I sang in an a cappella group in medical school. I really enjoyed it. Now I generally only sing around the house and enjoy going to local music theaters to hear others sing.
What’s your idea of a perfect day? An evening at home with my family or beach vacation with my family.
Something you’ve always wanted to do and still want to do? I’d love to visit Italy.
Traits you value in a colleague? Honesty, compassion, dedication and a good sense of humor.
What is your greatest indulgence? Ice cream – plain chocolate and vanilla are my favorite. I’m really picky about the type or brand of ice cream, too. I like the all-natural, only a few ingredients type.
Do you have any pet peeves? People who use their phones at the dinner table.
What’s your greatest achievement? My daughter and becoming a mom.
Why did you choose Akron Children’s: The people are so warm and friendly here. I was very impressed with the commitment, quality improvements and excellent patient care everyone provides.