During the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the U.S. and around the world have faced agonizing and ethically difficult situations where they feel like they cannot do enough or are unable to live up to their own standards. Some examples include not being able to be there in person to care for an infected family member, worrying about exposing others to infection, being unable to provide for their family due to job loss, or being unable to adequately care for children and their education during school closures.
Blog posts with the tag "Guest Perspective"
For all its power to terrify, Covid-19 can’t keep us from marveling at the courage of frontline human service workers all over the world. They are braving not only the physical dangers of repeated exposure to the deadly virus, but also the emotional dangers of empathically sharing so much suffering with so many, and the moral dangers of possibly being unable to save every savable life, such as when intensive care services become overwhelmed. Their courage seems all the more remarkable given that all three of these dangers are invisible, operating mostly outside of anyone’s immediate awareness.
As medical practitioners, it’s easy to get into routines, customary practice guidelines and well-organized treatment regimes. I’m well aware, as with any situation or job, it can be very challenging and frightening to step outside of your comfort zone and push the boundaries. Yet, every single patient and situation is different. Each person is unique, has a different story, and is looking to you for help. Let’s face it, sometimes you run across that unicorn; the square peg that will not fit in that round hole. That is why I have been asked to write to you today. I’m here to share with you a story, my story about a life and a family that was saved by two mental health practitioners thinking outside of that box. Those practitioners brought a soldier out of what seemed like a hopeless situation that had baffled doctors across the country for over a decade.
Understanding the influence of military culture on mental health and organizational aspects of the armed services is of particular interest to me given my decision to join the Air Force in 2015. Although, even if I were not a Service member, I would still consider the knowledge and skills gained during The Summer Institute to have utility, in working with Veteran populations and the families of those who served, as a civilian health care provider. I expected to learn about evidence-based treatments for a wide range of clinical presentations and military-specific stressors, what was less expected was the involvement of so many former and current military psychologists who added breadth and depth to the seminars and didactics.
It is Monday at 0730 in Bethesda, Maryland. A line of DoD employees stand outside the entrance to the Uniformed Services University (USU). Suddenly, the uniformity is interrupted. A cacophony of sounds and colors erupts from the Metro stop. Although many of my fellow Summer Institute participants fail to recognize our “gaggle” status, as we near the gate, a hush falls over our group. We make it through without incident and our group continues. I find myself reflecting back to words spoken at my basic combat training years before, “MOVE WITH A PURPOSE, PRIVATE.” Years later, I understand the value of that statement and the need to call cadence. We were truly a gaggle!