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:
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.
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