Editors’ Note: This article was accepted on March 17, 2020, and was accurate at that time. Because information about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is evolving rapidly, please verify these recommendations and information.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and panic to our community, but answering the call to action is why we chose to become emergency physicians. We are asking how we can help, not if we can go home. We are proud to serve in our communities, and we are driven to care for any patient with any condition, including one that has brought worldwide fear and drastically altered society. In emergency medicine, we thrive on adapting to our environment and working through the unknown as it unfolds.
However, the pandemic has made a significant impact on our work, our lives, and our training as residents. We are figuring out what to do as the situation evolves. Here at Central Michigan University in Saginaw, we have adjusted in ways that will allow us to excel while serving our patients. There are new precautions to keep residents safe and to safeguard our ability to step up if and when members of our team fall ill. Nonessential duties have been delayed. Many off-service rotations have been canceled. At this time of uncertainty and need, patient care is everything.
While some of us have to stay at home, we are using this time to serve the community. Program leadership has developed ways for those who are self-isolating and social distancing to participate in this rapidly changing environment through the development of a virtual public health elective. This elective allows us to serve our community as we await our call to duty in this unpredictable environment. The elective involves literature review, demographic analysis, and the dissemination of public education, which could be through social media, lectures, or other means. The residents and our mentors view this public health elective as an opportunity that will benefit residents and, more important, will benefit our patients and our communities.
While some residents continue to work on the front lines, others serve the community in other ways and are prepared to step onto the front line when called upon. We are prepared to pick up shifts if and when emergency department volume increases or to take over shifts for our fellow residents. We are prepared to do what is needed to provide the best care for patients as we navigate through adversity. We support each other, and our resident family has been in virtual contact with each other while social distancing. As residents we are supported by our leadership in caring for ourselves and each other. This allows us to move forward and do what is best for our patients.
Now is a time of fear and uncertainty. We do not know exactly how the coronavirus pandemic will unfold, but we will persevere. This is both a challenging and inspiring time to train in emergency medicine. It is an honor to work alongside our team members as we step up together to serve our patients and our community.
Dr. Arefieva is a PGY-1 emergency medicine resident and Dr. Hansen is a PGY-2 emergency medicine resident at Central Michigan University in Saginaw.