An hour before taking this picture, Dr. Ashley Carvalho received a slew of verbal abuse from a family who called her an incompetent doctor, threatened her with physical violence, and demanded that she give them her name and medical license number so they could sue. (Courtesy of Ashley Carvalho)
I am completing my medical residency training in Boise. After finishing medical school and earning MD or DO credentials, physicians continue training as residents in a specific area of focus, which allows us to practice medicine in a clinical setting with the support of attending physicians.
I chose to become a doctor to help others. I had no idea I would be training during a global pandemic.
Last week, I posted a picture on my personal social media account of myself in tears at work. I worried about coming across as dramatic, but the truth is, my colleagues and I have had enough. The picture shows me during a recent night shift, after my second patient of the night died of COVID-19 complications. Another patient would die a few hours later, for a grand total of 14 that week, ages 25 to 79.
Each of these deaths was from COVID-19 complications, and each patient was unvaccinated. They died from a preventable illness.
An hour before taking this picture, I received a slew of verbal abuse from a family who called me an incompetent doctor, threatened me with physical violence, and demanded I give them my name and medical license number so they could sue. This was because I refused to prescribe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, drugs that are not beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19.
My patient was struggling to breathe, but the family refused to allow me to provide care. A call to the police was the only solution.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. My experience is just a fraction of the strain and hardship nurses are currently being subjected to. Many of the ICU nurses on my team have become my great friends. They handle these difficult situations with fortitude, but the pandemic is taking its toll on health care workers.
A friend asked me recently how my mental health has been while working in the pandemic. Truthfully, it’s not good, and I’m not alone. Some say, “this is what you signed up for,” but it isn’t.
We did sign up for long hours, sleepless nights, stressful shifts, exhaustion, and missing time with friends and family. We did not sign up to have our years of training belittled and our credentials called into question. We did not sign up to be verbally abused while trying to save lives.
None of us thought our careers would be like this, but we will continue to help. Many refuse to get vaccinated because of their “research,” while engendering mistrust in the medical community and vilifying health care workers in the media, only to arrive to our ERs and ICUs sick and needing oxygen.
And we will continue to help.
Just remember, like anything else, compassion is a resource, and we are well and truly burnt out. But still, we’re here for you – at great cost to our personal wellbeing – but here for you, nonetheless.
We don’t need your sympathy. We need you to get vaccinated and stay safe.
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