COVID Burnout

I still have a lot of patients who are unvaccinated. At the beginning of 2021, I was very sympathetic. this was the first mRNA vaccine in mass production. We knew so little about COVID, and even less about a vaccine for it. It was only natural to have some concerns. But the risks (morbidity or mortality from infection, or infecting others) was a big enough motivator that getting the vaccine seemed like a straightforward choice. 

Now a year since I have been fully vaccinated, my sympathy is gone. The entirety of what we are experiencing with COVID at this point is because of the unwillingness of people to get vaccinated. I watch people suffer, have horrible complications, and die from COVID because of no other reason than obstinance. 

And it's not the death and suffering that bothers me the most, nor is it the strain of health care systems buckling under the weight of COVID cases. What bothers me the most is watching my friends and colleagues who have lost their passion for health care. We all went into medicine because caring for others means something to us. It might not have been the primary motivator, but you cannot survive in medicine if you do not value caring for others. 

And so I watched those who were materially motivated fall away from medicine. And then I watched those valuing their own health above others fall away. And now I am watching people who love caring for others drop out of health care, because they have entirely lost their passion. 

You can't call it burnout at this point. Burnout is a slow cooker. COVID is an incinerator. 

And I want you all to realize that we are approaching a moment where you will call EMS and no one will come. You will go to your doctor's office and no one will be there. You will go to the ER and no one will help you. And this is the only result of the path we are taking.

I was talking about this with a colleague, and he suggested we should get the nurses some gifts. I was polite enough not to slap him.

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