We published this a week ago. Every day since, my inbox has filled with emails from HCWs who say it reflects their reality & mental state. Their messages are heartbreaking--stories of pain, anger, and moral distress, sometimes at essay-length, from people who've had enough.
🚨During surges, much is written about healthcare workers burning out. But they often get by on adrenaline only to find, once ICUs are empty, that so are they.
In the US, 1/5 have left. More plan too. I wrote about the hemorrhage happening right now. 1/
There are people who want to leave but are trapped by debt, people who saw medicine as a calling but can't cope any more, people who feel so hollow that they're strangers to their loved ones, people who are staring at what looks a lot like another winter surge with utter horror.
In a way, it's gratifying to hear messages from people who say they finally feel seen, or who are thankful for something they can use to explain what's happening to their families. It's good to feel that these pieces make a difference to at least some people.
But also, they're devastating to create. Every interview is like being punched in the soul. I lose sleep, sweating the details. In the moment, I can focus on the cold mechanics of reporting and writing--oh this is the lede; here's a quote; this point links to that one...
But after publication, all of that disappears, and it's just me, grappling with the reality I just wrote about, all the stuff that's not even in the piece, and the heartbreak and trauma in all the messages that come in later.
I wrote that many HCWs get through the surges on adrenaline only to realize how empty they are when they can exhale. My problems are not their problems, but the pattern resonates. Each one of these pieces fucks me up. I wrote another last week; we're publishing it tomorrow.
This isn't a call for sympathy. HCWs have told me it made them feel less alone to see quotes from peers who shared their experiences. I guess this is for other reporters who are, as Olivia Messer wrote, extremely not okay. Take care of yourselves.
NEW: Despite a mountain of headline-worthy media departures, I believe our industry has failed to properly examine the ways reporters covering the pandemic are struggling—and what can be done about it. This is my attempt to correct that.
Thank you for being the amazing writer that you are! I always look forward to your pieces, and you have helped shed so much light throughout this pandemic. You are doing critical work and we in healthcare appreciate you!
Take care of yourself too. As healthcare workers we are just grateful that there are those in the media who believe the horrors of COVID and work hard to represent the truth against the tide of lies from anti-vaxxers and alternative "news" outlets.
your words are so validating -a reprieve from the gaslighting that we r living thru. Already I’ve used your article in a talk about burnout/harassment of women who tackle misinformation. All of us in this great resignation also share my next thought : what the F do we do now??