Down south in Gainesville, Florida, emergency physicians Giuliano De Portu, MD, FACEP, and Henry Young II, MD, are surrounded by rivers, lakes, and swamps that are inhabited by local and migratory birds. When they aren’t working in the emergency department (ED), they love to explore the outdoors, cameras in hand, capturing stunning portraits of the birds and other wildlife they encounter.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 05 – May 2022
Dr. De Portu was a full-time photojournalist before going to medical school when he was 33, but he had never photographed wildlife until the pandemic started. He and Dr. Young were both residents when they discovered their shared interest in photography and started exploring nature with their cameras as a way to destress.
“Taking time off from the ED during the pandemic was a must for me,” Dr. De Portu said. “… I can go on a peaceful walk, take some photographs and connect with art and nature. It also really brings happiness to be able to share my work, and it clears my mind.”
Dr. De Portu is not the only one finding joy and clarity in the great outdoors. In this photo essay, emergency physicians and medical students reflect on their favorite moments in Mother Nature.
I think it is important to remember how strong we are as emergency physicians, feeling everything there is to feel on that front line, while also remembering how strong we are as human beings. We stand tall, chin up with eyes wide open in order to even be aware of our surroundings. This naturally leads to countless opportunities that make it easier for us to recognize just how much exists in this big, beautiful world that has the ability to spark happiness and leaves us truly feeling alive. Perhaps then, the most challenging part is remembering how that spark of happiness felt. We must hold tight to that memory and feed that spark often so it does not extinguish.
Thankfully, the wilderness gives us millions of potential sparks each and every day. Tiny details and inexplicable miracles we see in the sky, the landscapes and mountains that leave us in awe, the rhythmic vibration felt when a herd of elephants cross a riverbed together in the evening that makes us think it was actually a well-choreographed dance, and the simple act of the ocean greeting the sand at sunrise that triggers the smell of saltwater and reminds you of the vastness of the ocean and how beautifully complex its marine life is, just below the surface. This is the wilderness.
These feelings and experiences are our life fuel. They pick us up, they keep us going, they ground us and they keep us feeling as “normal” as possible during very abnormal times. They keep us childlike in the best way, they pique our curiosities and help connect us with others as well as ourselves. The wilderness gives us hope and strength, and gives us a reason to keep fighting through hard times and hard shifts; it ultimately brings us back “home.” —Taylor Haston, DO, chair, ACEP Wilderness Medicine Section