The past 18 months have been traumatizing for our profession, and it’s got me worried.
Rising case counts, hospitalizations, and anti-vaxxer protests rightly occupy much of my time. I have spoken to these issues repeatedly in the media, doing as many as 11 interviews a day. Doctors of BC has also been consistent with its advocacy on measures to protect us and our communities, such as supporting the vaccine card system and mandatory vaccinations for healthcare staff. We have also proposed measures such as mandatory vaccinations for education and childcare workers. We are in constant communication with the PHO office, BCCDC, and ImmunizeBC as we navigate the pandemic’s fourth wave.
But there is something else I am worried about too. I am worried about how all the strain is changing how we treat one another.
I am worried about what is being said in hushed tones, on messaging apps, and within private forums. I am worried about what we are saying about one another, explicitly or implicitly, in formal communications and in the media. I am worried about “them versus us.”
Here’s the thing. There is no “them.” There is only us.
We are the profession that the public is relying on to steer them through this pandemic. Whether you are the public health doctor being scrutinized by millions, the family doctor trying to keep yourself and your clinic afloat, a hospital doctor coping with wave after wave, a proceduralist facing yet another cancelled slate, or a lab doctor keeping up with the crushing volume.
We are the few, relied upon by the many.
We are on a journey that none of us signed up for, and we need to stick together to make it to the end.
We are going to disagree. We may even fight. We are going to appeal to evidence, experience, and credentials to back up our arguments. We may even resort to regulations and regulatory authorities.
But in the end, the fight is with COVID, not with each other.
There are legitimate concerns, legitimate grievances – there are many harsh lessons we are learning from this pandemic. Our healthcare system, and our society, was not sustainable in its pre-pandemic form. Many of you have been crying out for more resources, more support, more help for years. You deserve better.
But to get to better, we must first get through this. And to get through this, we need to do it together.
Let us consider how our words affect our colleagues. Let us consider how our actions can add to, or take away from, a colleague’s burden. Let us consult colleagues before we make decisions that affect them. Let us remember that each of us is trying their level best, under extraordinary conditions, and with good intent.
In every hallway conversation, instant message, forum post, letter, and official communique – let us remember that we are colleagues on this journey together.
- Dr Matthew Chow