Today’s Theme: The Power of Story

Today’s theme is about the power of story and a reminder that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to pass from our lives, it will be up to us who were there and who served on the front lines to help define how it is remembered. We have the chance to control whether it will be seen solely as a crisis or if it can be understood as a moment that brought out the best in many. The world of health care is one that is in transition. We are caught somewhere in the middle of an adolescence as our professions and our health systems struggle to define their place in the 21st century. For many this has led to a crisis of identity that has eroded our ranks and led to a level of dissatisfaction with the work we do. For many, however, this struggle stopped – or at least paused – at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic, for all its devastation, offered us a clear reminder of why we have chosen to do the work we do and how it truly matters. Our patients and communities also shared in this moment. The lawns covered with signs thanking “healthcare heroes” served as a just one reminder that they understood why we were there. We are now more than six months from the day that the first cases of corona virus arrived and Western New York, and, if life has not fully returned to the way it once was, it has reached a steady state which is likely to be our reality for some time.  It would be easy to forget the sense of clarity that guided us through those early days, but this is precisely the time that we must take hold of it and use it to offer direction as the world moves on. We need to remind ourselves that we were the ones who stepped up to protect the community when fear was the dominant emotion of the moment. We were the ones who balanced 21st century science with age old traditions of compassion as we cared for our patients. Perhaps these are just stories and anecdotes, but they will help us define who we are. As we come to the end of 2020 and step into 2021, all the old frustrations will return. We will still have an imperfect health system and we will still have much work ahead of us, but, if we meet old challenges with a revitalized sense of self and a renewed sense of purpose, the path forward will be more clear. When we use the power of story to help define a better understanding of who we are, we are better able to define who we will become.