Thinking back to January 2020, I recalled the whispers throughout the hospital of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, mere minutes from my home institution. Aside from my perspective as a pediatrician, I was also forced to confront my own anxieties regarding exposure to this virus as an adult living with repaired congenital heart disease.
Recently, several attending physicians sparked controversy on Twitter by implying that low-income medical students or trainees should not pursue careers in medicine. While these tweets have since been deleted, the systemic injustices that they echo still ring in the highest levels of modern medical education. As a medical trainee from an impoverished household, I have spent almost my entire post-secondary education and medical training as part of an invisible demographic.
“You could help us with our diversity efforts. If you came here, you could be a part of building up our diversity program.” Who said I wanted to help with your diversity efforts? Why hasn’t it been built up already?
I constantly have to deal with racism and homophobia. In Boston. In America. When I leave work and go home, I have to prepare to deal with the same prejudices the following day. Why would I ever go out of my way to read such stories in my spare time, as I recover from the day behind me?
My husband Tom isn’t afraid of anything; strapping on a bulletproof vest every day for work will do that to a man. Tom wasn’t scared until I couldn’t breathe.
“The United States reports first death from COVID-19 in Washington State.” It was the end of February as I glanced over this news alert. For the past month, my inbox was flooded with emails regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. I saw my patients as usual throughout the day, albeit washing my hands and using hand sanitizers more often.
My own experience has felt a bit like wading through a swamp of hysteria, grief, misinformation and lack of leadership (locally and globally) while attempting to find clarity in the mire. This has unintentionally prompted me to re-evaluate my own toolkit of coping mechanisms and the ways in which I can maintain my own semblance of sanity. Whether you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, scattered or even just bored, listless, or helpless. I hope that one or more of these cognitive approaches can be helpful.
The Collective for Resident Rights at Yale wrote the following list of demands, under our rights as medical trainees, related to the COVID era. It is time to organize. Our collective voice cannot be silenced.
One of my good friends was in critical condition in the intensive care unit for weeks due to the coronavirus. I had become her point of contact. I, a physician, had for the first time become a patient’s “relative” in this pandemic. And with that, I thought I would share an excerpt from my diary.
As I enter rooms filled with aerosolized forms of the coronavirus, realizing that I am at high risk of catching this highly contagious disease, I set aside my fears to hold the hands of patients — strangers and friends, all alike. I love what I do.
Content warning: The following article is about sexual assault and rape. I think it is time to be honest with myself and the world and say that I am a survivor of sexual assault, not a victim. I have taken the power away from my abuser and given it back to myself by speaking out.
It was a beautiful late winter Sunday, and my husband and I decided to drive to Plum Island, in the quaint sea town of Newburyport just north of Boston, for some bird-watching and ocean views. I wondered how my sister-in-law was doing — her wedding was scheduled in just seven days, and she and her fiancé had already been faced with tough decisions because of the coronavirus pandemic.