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Terrible Twos

By Shanna Combs, MD

This piece was originally published in the January/February 2022 issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

Welcome to 2022! This is going to be our year. Things are going to be better. So long, COVID . . . Oh wait, maybe not. Doesn’t this all sound a little too reminiscent of the start of 2021? As I write this, we are in the beginning stages of a new variant, Omicron. There is still much we do not know about this variant, and hopefully, by the time you are reading this, it will have turned out to be not as bad as the last one. 

Thinking back to the start of 2021, we were elated to have new vaccines to fight off and end the COVID pandemic. Many of us in healthcare were racing to sign up to get our shot and show it off on social media. We finally had some armor to protect us in this fight, and soon enough it would be available to protect our families, friends, and patients. Yet the conversation quickly turned to, “It was made too quickly,” “You can’t mandate that I get the vaccine,” “I am healthy; why do I have to get the vaccine?” or “It is all fake news.” So now, here we are, entering the “terrible twos” of the COVID pandemic. If there is one thing that has been demonstrated during the COVID pandemic, it is that the innate trust in physicians, medicine, and science is, unfortunately, no longer so automatic. We as physicians must continue to be voices for science and for medicine who, at the end of the day, want the best health outcomes for our patients.  

As we enter the terrible twos of the pandemic, I encourage my physician compatriots to be the voice that our patients and our society need to hear. Whether that is in your day-to-day interactions with patients, conversations with family and friends, or in public venues, we must continue to be the voice of medicine. Ways to amplify that voice exist within our own county, state, and national medical society. Those of us in medicine often focus on what makes us different, but now more than ever we need to focus on what brings us together. 

We are all tired and exhausted from this fight, and more than once I have heard others as well as myself say, “Can’t we just go back to how it used to be?” Unfortunately, I hate to say, COVID is with us for the foreseeable future. Yet, those of us in medicine went into this field for a reason. For me, that reason always comes down to my patients. I want to provide the best care to optimize the health and well-being of my patients. During these terrible twos, I call on my colleagues to remember why you embarked on this journey of medicine, and when you see a colleague struggling, help them to remember why they came to this profession. Not only can we be the voice of medicine to our patients, but we can also be the voice of support and camaraderie for our fellow physicians.

As we embark on this new year, I want to say that I support you as a fellow physician, and I look forward to the amazing work that you all contribute to your patients and to our society. Thank you for what you have done and what you will continue to do.

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