You stand up from your desk, take a deep breath, and get to work.
It’s business as usual.
There are exams to perform, test results to review, referrals to be made, and patients to console.
A patient’s son is on the phone, concerned about his mom’s upcoming procedure.
The lab values on the new gentleman down the hall are worse than you thought they’d be, and medications need to be adjusted – quickly.
The child who seemed almost ready for discharge yesterday is now showing early signs of sepsis.
There are questions to answer and orders to sign … and that’s just the first three minutes of the workday.
From the outside looking in, it’s just another ordinary day of work … except it’s not.
In fact, it’s not ordinary at all.
There’s nothing ordinary about spending month after month doing an already incredibly demanding job, and doing it with extreme precision, focus, and a smile … all during a pandemic.
There’s nothing ordinary about the sheer exhaustion and mental toll of showing up each day, fighting to care for sick patients – while working hard to protect yourself and your loved ones from the brutal virus.
There’s nothing ordinary about constantly trying to juggle unprecedented demands at work while the weight of the pandemic seeps more and more into your personal life.
Nothing’s ordinary, and the strain on health care workers has been extensive.
A survey of health care workers by Mental Health America in late 2020 found that 93 percent of health care workers reported stress, 86 percent felt anxious, 76 percent were exhausted and burned out, and 75 percent reported being overwhelmed.
And even now, months later, the stress for health care workers continues.
With life gradually returning to some semblance of normalcy for many people, with birthday parties and holidays and celebrations resuming, health care workers are still rising each day and fighting the fight.
They rise each day to face the brutal wake of the pandemic and what it’s done to their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
They rise to face continued pressures for increased productivity in spite of lack of staffing and exhaustion amongst colleagues.
They rise to face the demands inherent to medical careers that are now greatly magnified thanks to COVID-19.
And as they rise each day, they selflessly brush aside their own struggles to focus on their patients.
Day after day after everloving day, they spend endless hours taking precise and conscientious care of patients who have their own significant challenges.
The burdens they carry feel heavy and relentless – and the outside world doesn’t seem to understand.
In a profession that demands everyday perfection and peak performance, with a big dose of excellent bedside manner, chronic stress can be incredibly overwhelming.
Add a pandemic to that, and it’s a recipe for mental disaster for health care workers.
They’ve sacrificed eternally. They’ve given up years of their lives, thousands of hours of sleep, quality time with their most cherished loved ones, and their own health – to care for humanity in the absolute worst of times.
The calling is strong, yet so is the toll.
And now, as the world emerges from the pandemic, who will heal the healers?
How will they be restored?
Who will help them be healthy?
Who will help them be happy, and well, and thrive?
After all, today’s just another day, with its long list of demands.
It’s business as usual – there are lives to save and patients to serve.
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