It is a dark time to be a physician. Yes, because of the global pandemic- watching our colleagues in other countries die, staring down the barrel of not enough ventilators, reading the New England Journal of Medicine’s paper on how to choose who gets care and who we allow to die.
But we are trained for this. We are up to the task, to take care of the ill. What is harder to face are the cracks in medicine that this pandemic has shown, like many other parts of society. It’s the article I saw where the reporter has better personal protective equipment than the doctor in the photo. Watching sweeping pay cuts to doctors — even those on the front lines — because organizations are not as profitable. The ineligibility of physicians to receive any relief from the economic stimulus bill, even though their private practice is closed due to quarantine. Interest on hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans marches on, capitalizing despite the pandemic.
The call for physicians to volunteer their time in hard-hit areas because it’s the right thing to do, and we took an oath — while seeing RN disaster pay hit $12,000 per week. Threatening employment termination to physicians that speak on social media to complain about their lack of PPE, or being fired for exposing a hospital’s lack of preparedness. The reticence of many physician professional organizations to speak boldly, advocating for what we need to stay safe. Going door to door to collect the neighbors’ leftover N95 masks from the last California wildfires, since the CDC has handed us a bandana.
Sick people are part of the job. Being gaslighted, muzzled, and placed at unnecessary risk are not.
I have a lot to be thankful for. I am still employed. My family is well, and my husband even remembered the flowers. But this has happened to my classmates, my friends, my specialty. It is a dark day to be a doctor.
The author is an anonymous physician.
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