In the last few months, I have started looking to the future, daring to believe that we are near the end of the pandemic. With that, I have realized that recovering from the pandemic, individually and collectively, is going to take as much work as getting through it.
We are forever changed by our experiences these long pandemic years. As healthcare workers and as women, we have suffered, and we have served.
Early in the pandemic, the author Arundhati Roy wrote: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
So…as we journey through the next few months and years, how will WE imagine our world anew? How can we leave our current state of exhaustion and overwork to create a new world where we can care for our patients and ourselves?
It’s time for us to lay down our capes as healthcare heroes. It’s time for us to be
healthcare humans. Just as our society will soon journey through pandemic recovery, so too must we recover. It’s time to rest our bodies with sleep and pursuits that restore calm to our physical selves. It’s time to rest our minds with breaks and boundaries to ensure that when we step away, we actually don’t work.
It’s time to rest our hearts and our souls through the restorative power of relationships.
Now I know, resting is easier said than done in the face of a nationwide healthcare
crisis. But we cannot continue this way. When we neglect our own health and wellbeing in order to make up for the shortcomings of our healthcare system, we’re not serving our patients.
We’re holding back long overdue conversations about the failings of Canadian healthcare. So, let’s reframe sleep and weekends and boundaries and gatherings with friends as not only self-care, but acts of quiet rebellion against our culture of overwork and exhaustion.
Let’s remember that what we permit, we promote.
Because with rest and relationships rekindled, just imagine what we can do together:
If we listen and learn from each other
If we reject the “way things have always been done”
If we speak together to say "enough"
We can create the healthcare system that we need and deserve.
For our patients
For all of us
Dr. Renee Fernandez
Renee is a medical school colleague of Carolyn and Brenda's, and the current executive director of BC Family Doctors. She recently spoke at the 2022 Nurturing Table, held in Cloverdale, BC on September 10, 2022. This is an edited excerpt from her commentary held at this event.