Wednesday Wisdom by Dr. James Scott Wright

Thoughts on the journey, personal growth, and making a difference.

COVID and the Obligations of a Physician

COVID-19 has completely disrupted our world.  From face masks to social distancing, the terrain of our lives has changed over the past six months.  Some of the change has been positive such as a renewed priority on health and safety.  However, there have been significant negative effects of the pandemic: socially, economically, and politically.  We have all seen these effects played out in front of us on social media platforms as well as in the ever-present barrage of news stories.

Of specific concern for those of us connected to healthcare and medical education is the effect of the pandemic on front line workers in our clinics and hospitals.  Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers have, in many cases, felt the brunt of this national catastrophe as they seek to serve those who are infected.  Some have even contracted the disease themselves and there are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service.

As a premed student, one aspiring to enter the field of healthcare and of service to others, how does this make you feel?  Does the obligation to help those in need, even while potentially putting yourself at risk, cause you any pause?  Do you continue to be committed to helping others who could affect your own future and the future of those you love?  How concerned about these issues are you?

I would strongly encourage you to spend some time evaluating your reasons for entering medicine.  Take an honest look at your motivations.  Do some reading about what physicians’ obligations are when serving their patients and families.  No doubt, you have done this before as a general exercise.  I am asking now, however, for you to examine your motives within the context of a significant health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, including physicians.  The question is…how strongly does your desire to practice medicine reach?


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