Volume 68, Issue 3 - Page 6

NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL August feels like a renewal month. Maybe it’s the fact that we have all been in school for such a long time and those new beginnings always started in August (well, until clinicals as MS3s!). This year, it feels like a renewal, but in a different way. The air of uncertainty has solidified: now a heavy cloud stalled over our schools, universities and the medical schools. How can we open safely for our learners for the summer and fall? How do teachers, professors and staff of every kind stay safe? Our pediatricians have warned that our children are missing out on building their social and development cues. In some cases, children are even regressing due to the change in the social interactions. If children do not go to school, many will miss two meals a day, unless overburdened parents can manage to get them to the meal-distribution sites for Jefferson County Public Schools. The other face of school/not-school is child care. I know my friends and my patients who have day jobs have had difficulty being a teacher-parent on top of all their other responsibilities. We are in a conundrum, and they–especially if still jobless from the shutdowns–are at the breaking point of anxiety about the future. This virus has highlighted and magnified the cracks in our society, including the lack of good child care options for folks that work. Many remain unaffordable because our teachers, essential workers and their aides are not paid adequately to teach our children. Yet they put themselves at risk by going to school. How can we keep our teachers safe as they take care of our children? This moment is connected to the other moments that are happening right now. We hope to understand that experience better starting in this issue of Louisville Medicine. For our medical students, how and what do we teach our new incoming medical students differently? What will their medical education look like? How can we prepare them for the unknowns ahead? The effects of COVID-19 will change the world of our students. Their white coat ceremony has been postponed. Fourth-year medical students will be doing residency interviews virtually and exploring locations from the safety of their homes. Our resiliency will be tested as the cases across the US reach new highs. I know we are getting tired, too. We must continue to care for ourselves so we can better care for our patients. The weight of COVID-19 and the modifications and changes we have had to make, the constant worry, take a toll. But the virus is not letting up, and neither will we. For me, this August, this sense of renewal continues. Our renewal will be in this rekindling of the new normal. We must continue to stress with our family, friends and neighbors that they must practice hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mask. Reducing our risk is still the new normal, and will remain so for months to come. Dr. Tailor is an internal medicine physician at Norton Community Medical Associates: Barret. This virus has highlighted the fact we do not have sick leave, and many are forced to go to work sick. Workers who are still going to work while sick–financially they don’t have a choice–put us all at risk. This virus has shown us that if you are Black or Brown, you have a greater risk of contracting the virus and of dying from it. 4 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE