Get the latest physician coaching advice by signing up for my newsletter.
On May 18, NPR reported a story on an 80-year-old patient who died from COVID-19 after her home health aide failed to self-isolate following contact with a person who was suspected of carrying the coronavirus. What this tragedy makes clear is how critical it is for those in the healthcare industry—who encounter hundreds of patients a day—to take precautions, especially during the pandemic.
And many clinicians are doing just that. They are even going a step further to mitigate the risk of getting others sick, including their families, by self-isolating every day when they get home from their shift. The don’t go out except to go to work. They limit their movements to a single room, some sleeping in tents in their garages.
Whether you need to self-isolate because you have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or you are just trying to protect others, these five tips will help you make the most of your situation.
Take Some Time for Yourself So You Can Return to the Font Lines Refreshed and Avoid Burnout
One of the main reasons I chose physician coaching as a calling is because I see the toll that being a clinician can take on someone. Heck, I’ve experienced it myself. Physician burnout makes things difficult for healer and patient alike. So, take the time that you have to yourself during isolation to do whatever recharges your batteries.
Use the Time to Re-Envision Your Practice or Your Career
This pandemic has been a wake-up call for many in the healthcare industry that a lot more needs to be done to protect and treat people effectively. You can help by taking a few minutes to evaluate your practice or your role in healthcare and how you can do more. It could mean taking on a different role that is more suited to your skills or talents. Or perhaps you can think of ways to improve patient experience.
Whatever you do, do it with purpose.
Remind Yourself Why You Do What You Do
The time I’ve spent physician coaching and mentoring has opened my eyes to the real problems that doctors, hospitals, and small practices face. Some of these problems do not yet have a solution. Until they do, you need to remind yourself of the reason you chose to help people stay healthy.
Use Tech to Maintain Connections with Loved Ones
There’s no way around it—self-isolation is not fun. Perhaps the worst part is how lonely it can be. If you normally lean on loved ones for emotional support, use the technology that you have available to connect with them. If you can use telemedicine to connect with your patients, you can use video chat to talk to your kids before bed.
Give Yourself Room to Feel and Process Your Emotions
We are not strangers to traumatic experiences as physicians. Death, disease, and severe injury are just part of the job. If you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself space to feel those emotions. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel the need. Many offer telehealth appointments, so you don’t need to leave your house to get the support you need.