In the past 3 months, our society has been anguished with a plethora of negativity, uncertainty and lost loved ones. This unprecedented period has undoubtedly been a difficult time. Yet there are many lessons learnt during the COVID-19 period to carry forward into the future.
1. Lockdown restrictions have endeavoured to ‘flatten the curve’ and in the hospital we have inadvertently ‘flattened the hierarchy’.
As a junior doctor working on the frontline, I have never experienced teamwork in the NHS quite like this. Redeployment of doctors has encouraged junior doctors to step up in their role and experienced consultants to brushed up on old skills. The culture of ‘learning’ in the time of crisis has helped to narrow the hospital hierarchical gap and also expand our repertoire of medical skills.
Having personally being redeployed to the COVID-19 cardiac arrest team, new educational opportunities have been created which otherwise would not have been accessible to me. These include: how to don PPE quickly to perform advanced life support, how to manage deteriorating patients quickly and learning how to use a ventilator. In my first year of being a doctor, I am grateful for these novel opportunities in a well-supported environment.
2. Invaluable time to reflect, slow down the fast-pace of life and learn new skills.
Not only has this period provided indispensable time to spend with loved ones, but also a time to sharpen our focus on goals and embark on new skills. People have become aware and more educated on the apparent inequalities of society including the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the discriminatory nature of COVID-19 to the BAME population. BAME are more likely to acquire coronavirus than any other race.(1)
Moreover, other social issues have been highlighted such as the prominence of loneliness in the elderly population.(2) Studies have shown that loneliness is linked to declining mental health.(3) Moving forward, focus should lie on addressing these factors and implementing strategies to mitigate declining mental health, loneliness and health inequalities.
3. More appreciation for each other.
Free healthcare, emergency services and supermarket workers have previously been taken for granted, but now industrious workers are finally in the spotlight. Over the last 3 months, I have been overwhelmed by the donated food by generous companies, families and places of worship to support frontline workers. In addition, the UK- wide ’Clap For Key Workers’ campaign has continued to be my weekly highlight during a challenging time. The initiative has brought neighbourhoods together with mutual appreciation for one another.
In times of hardship, solutions have been found. Innovators have created hospital items; like car manufacturing companies created more ventilators and 3D printers have produced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The coronavirus pandemic may be the most challenging period of our lifetime. Yet despite adversity, I hope we find the silver lining of opportunities to excel in our medical practise, growth in personal development and a new appreciation for each other.
By Dr Ravina Bhanot
1. Khunti K, Singh A, Pareek M, Hanif W. Is ethnicity linked to incidence or outcomes of covid-19?. BMJ. 2020;m1548.
2. Armitage R, Nellums L. COVID-19 and the consequences of isolating the elderly. The Lancet Public Health. 2020;5(5):e256. 3. Fakoya O, McCorry N, Donnelly M. Loneliness and social isolation interventions for older adults: a scoping review of reviews. BMC Public Health. 2020;20(1).