COVID-19: The Positives

These challenging times have brought families and the profession together

So much has happened in our communities and world since the last issue of Corneal Physician. Let me start by saying that I hope you and your families are weathering the storm that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of you, I have not experienced pandemic-related tragedy and chaos at this level in my lifetime. That said, positives are coming from this difficult experience.

For example, I’ve been so impressed by my colleagues who, in the face of adversity, have rallied together, communicated, and effectively shut down their practices, putting what they have built at risk, for the good of both their patients and society.

I know many ophthalmologists who have volunteered their time to help in areas outside of their specialty. Some doctors have been taking on the challenges of relearning critical care to help in overwhelmed ICUs or have been deployed to emergency rooms for coverage, while others have been doing equally important work, such as calling families to update them on the status of their loved ones who could not have visitors in the hospital.

Furthermore, we as a community of ophthalmologists, have come together to continue to educate one another and exchange ideas — perhaps the ultimate goal of success for any profession. In the face of chaos, colleagues have set up group chats, webinars, podcasts, and we have written articles on understanding COVID-19 and how to create best practices around patient care and self-protection. MDs have also answered the myriad questions related to re-opening safely and how to deliver excellent care to our patients in need during this challenging time. Seeing our profession rally around learning about the unknowns of COVID-19 gives me great pride in knowing that when we come together, we are stronger than when we act alone.

On a personal level, the extended time of social distancing and quarantine has made it challenging to adjust from being a busy clinician to staying at home nearly full-time. After the initial shock of this “new normal,” I have used the time I’ve had, with limited ophthalmic clinical responsibilities, to try to find the silver lining of each day. Some silver lining examples:

Reconnecting with friends and colleagues virtually, thanks to modern technology. Perhaps this time of isolation reminds many of us that connecting with friends, colleagues, and family is something that we all need to take the time to do on a regular basis.

Having the time to reflect on the many things that make life special. In addition to spending time with family, I’ve been enriching myself with education in both the professional and “fun” arenas. In the “fun” category, I’ve taken virtual wine-tasting classes, brushed up on my Spanish-speaking skills, and have found ways to incorporate exercise in the outdoors every day.

Maybe when we look back at this pandemic, we will remember the good things that came from it, such as what I outlined above. Additionally I hope, that as we look to the future, we don’t forget the importance of finding ways to take care of ourselves when we aren’t given that luxury of time.

Finally, let’s remember that this is temporary. So, when it’s time to transition back into full-time practice or “how it was before,” with all of the commitments and stresses of clinical medicine and surgery, it is my hope that we lean on one another as colleagues and continue to learn together, as we have during this unprecedented time.

In the spirit of continuing to learn from one another, I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Corneal Physician. We have chosen a number of interesting and clinically relevant topics that we hope offer practical learning from your expert colleagues who have graciously dedicated their time to teaching and bringing our community together. CP