Monday, April 27, 2020

Two Doctors Reflect on the Practice of Medicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Reflecting on learning experiences is a great way to turn such experiences into deeper learning. We do this when we step back from those experiences to think about, analyze, trim and prune what we have learned.

If you are interested in learning more about reflective practice in this Wiki which includes applications in education, for health professionals, environmental management and sustainability, leadership positions, and others

In their Op-Ed (Star Tribune (4.20.2020) family physicians Michael Stiffman and Patricia Adam write about a frequent question: "How are you doing?"  Below are their reflections on COVID-19. I must warn you that they are greatly abbreviated and I hope I've preserved their intent. Please, please read their short essay.

Fear: Fear that they/colleagues might contact the disease

Guilt: For colleagues who cannot work for medical reasons and who know that others are practicing medicine.

Renewal of Purpose: We have always done essential work but not always appreciated this. Now we do.

Discomfort: Our practice of medicine has changed as we are asked to do new things, one is provide care by phone. We prefer seeing patients. We operate under unusual conditions of uncertainty since this disease is new to us.

Pride in our Profession: We know the risks to ourselves but this is a profession and we are proud to be physicians, perhaps prouder than ever.

Intellectually Stimulated: This is a time of new and deep learning we find stimulating.

Innovative: This is especially true in the ways we have learned to practice, e.g., virtual medicine rather than direct visits, e.g., 80% of today's "office visits" are virtual.

Loss: The daily routines to which we've grown accustomed change almost daily and the unfamiliar is now the routine.

Excitement: This is a challenge in which we will succeed.

Boredom: There is a surge of infections in front of us and we are waiting for it.

Healing: The virus does not have a cure yet so we practice what most of us went into medicine for:  comforting patients and that helps us, too.

Gratitude: For all our colleagues and those who support and provide us with food and the materials we need to do this work. Many risk exposure to COVID-19.

Another reason, if you need one, to read this column is their closing paragraph.

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