September 21, 2021
Some specialties, like emergency departments, have shouldered a larger share of the burden of care during the pandemic.
“In emergency medicine, every patient that comes in is unscheduled,” says Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “So you never know what your day is going to be like.”
Dealing with a mysterious ailment—and extremely ill, contagious patients—has increased emergency workers’ anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicidality, Rosenberg says.
Physician suicide in general had already been something of a silent pandemic: in a 2020 Physicians Foundation survey, nearly 1 in 4 physicians said they personally knew another doctor who had died by suicide.
To help emergency-medicine personnel cope with the demands of their job, the ACEP offers a variety of programs. These include a peer-support group, online discussion forums and a video-diary project that helps emergency physicians process their experiences. The video project is a members-only resource for emergency physicians to share with their colleagues what it’s been like living through the pandemic, helping frontline clinicians reaffirm why they stay in emergency medicine.
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