It’s simple: we need more physicians in media and politics. COVID-19 has proven to be a crash course in the practical application of microbiological, pathophysiological, clinical, statistical, and ethical principles. As a newly graduated MD preparing to enter residency, I spend my mornings filtering through recent journal correspondence, case reports, observational studies, and randomized control trials in order to form and refine a professional opinion on this dynamic and challenging ...

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A call to arms The thought never crossed my mind that as an ophthalmology resident, I would play a direct role in treating patients with this novel virus. The rapidity with which the virus had spread would become a poignant reminder of the lethality of pandemics. In a few short weeks of the first COVID patient arriving in NYC, increasing social distancing measures were taken as the city’s hospitals became overwhelmed. ...

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COVID-19 is taking a toll on my mental well-being in a way I had not expected. I have a rather high distress tolerance. I am a pediatric emergency psychiatrist. Now I am a wounded healer battling anxiety and fears from the constant unknown taking place inside my body. In early March, before New York State went on pause, I woke up to an intense headache, followed by malaise, chills, throat soreness, ...

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Whispers of fluctuating rumors had filled our ears for the last week; group messages were exploding with controversy -- the invisible threat, COVID-19, had reached the Texas Medical Center. All meetings for over 25 people were canceled, effective immediately. Suddenly, during the season when as a third-year medical student, I was supposed to be rotating through clinical electives, learning how to become the pediatrician I always dreamed of being, all ...

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For weeks, our health care workforce has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic staring straight at mortality - their patients and their own.  They have been single-mindedly focused on the task at hand, doing what needs to be done while instinctually suppressing their emotional response.  The job requires this, and they have done it well. Yet, the tragic suicide of Dr. Lorna Breen has brought focus in a devastating ...

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As of May 17, 2020, there are approximately 1.5 million documented cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Of those infected, 90,000 have died. The current population of the United States is estimated to be 331 million. This means COVID-19 infections have only been confirmed in less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans. This number does not include those who have acquired the virus but not had their infection verified by ...

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The chart for the first patient of the morning states, “elevated blood pressure for two weeks.” As I enter the room, I see a frail, elderly woman perched gingerly in the chair. She has on large sunglasses and a fabric mask. She looks apprehensive, so I introduce myself quickly. Before COVID-19, I would shake her hand, but times have changed. Before I even sit down, she immediately shows ...

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The COVID-19 crisis has forced upon us the rapid adoption of telemedicine with all its advantages and flaws. It has certainly allowed physicians to evaluate patients safely and to assess them while continuing to allow them to physically distance.  It many cases, it has allowed for the recognition of an exacerbation of a chronic illness that the patient had otherwise neglected, fearful that leaving their home and going ...

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On Friday, March 27, 2020, California went on lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It changed every Californian's life, including my own. As the newly appointed chief scribe, the possibility that I would be jobless by the time Monday rolled around, was the last of my worries. What would happen to the patients who depended on our care? Or the physicians, nurses, and administrators that kept the center ...

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An excerpt from Fragile: Beauty in Chaos, Grace in Tragedy, and the Hope That Lives in Between. I remember standing motionless in the doctors’ lounge, staring at my hands. Things had changed. I was someone different, someone my family and friends might not recognize if ...

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Little did I know when I selected my sub-specialty during residency that 15 years later, we would be at the forefront of a pandemic. Over the last eight weeks, I have, just like many physicians trained in pulmonary and critical care medicine, spent countless hours in the intensive care unit (ICU) treating patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Medical literature surrounding the critical care management of ...

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Since the arrival of COVID-19 in America, most health care systems have adopted a policy delaying non-essential or non-urgent procedures and appointments in the hopes of preserving PPE and minimizing interpersonal exposure. Despite resultant furloughs, frustrations, and massive financial losses, the practice remains relatively non-controversial as the safest course for patients and staff. Numerous professional societies have subsequently released guidelines defining what kinds of conditions can and should be deferred. ...

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As a fellow physician colleague, I felt compelled to address what medical personnel is experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, we've never been here before, and I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the gravity of the situation, its effects on trainees and attending physicians across the globe. While this is not a discussion about the virus, I urge you to please follow credible sources of information, ...

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Many of us (especially psychiatrists and physician coaches) have been warning the medical profession at large for weeks now that we are headed for unprecedented numbers of physicians, nurses, other health care workers, and first responders suffering from PTSD. A free support group of psychiatrists for physicians formed rapidly. Several articles have been written. Physician suicides during this pandemic have made the news. And the NYT finally published an article ...

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Astor lies in a reclining wheelchair, surrounded by community, gathered for morning prayer. A rosary,  woven between folded fingers rests upon her belly. Astor murmurs: “Help me. Help me. I am all alone.” Today, the last Friday in March, I am assisting another resident as he leads the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a meditative Catholic prayer using the beads of the rosary as a guide. In younger years, Astor found this prayer to ...

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With the rise of the internet, people started exploring ways to get medical advice online. The medical community was initially humored by this development, thinking it is a cute way for patients to look up their symptoms before coming to see us, their doctors.  The next stage in our response was irritation. As more people flooded our offices, our emergency rooms, and our hospital wards demanding treatments ...

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I grew up a New York Yankees baseball fan in the fifties and sixties. Among the many stars on the Yankees, none became more famous for one-liners and quips than #8, Yogi Berra. Yogi’s famous reminder, “It ain't over til it’s over,” seems so fitting today as we await some sort of resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic. (For any Lenny Kravitz fans, out there, yes, he recorded a song by the same ...

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When I wear a mask over my face, I am protecting both of us. When I wear a mask over my feelings, I am protecting both of us, too. When you ask me, "How are you doing?" this is why I have no answer. Four days a week, I have a (currently mostly virtual) primary care practice taking care of manageable problems, trying to teach folks how to take care of their chronic ...

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In January, we learned of an emerging threat in China, a variant of the frightening SARS virus, but worse—more infectious. Since then, we learned China, the first to both see and successfully manage its outbreak, seriously under-detected the disease. According to a widely circulated computer model study, true cases were probably around seven times greater than the official count. Calculations published a ...

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Death. Mortality. End of Life. Something inevitable, yet rarely discussed and a source of intense discomfort for most. When mentioned, it is considered inauspicious and rude in many cultures. Death is an integral part of the workday for a critical care physician like me. But it was never a topic of discussion in medical school or training. Death is inevitably encountered by every physician at some point and by every human. ...

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