Why Do We Walk Toward Danger

A college friend who became a doctor and author (pen name Samuel Shem) sent a message about his recent experiences at the NYU Grossman Medical Center. He was lecturing there on March 4th, caught the virus, and transmitted it to his wife. Both have now recovered.

Being on the front lines prompted him to reflect on why health service workers willingly take this risk. Day in and day out. Part of his thoughts follow:

Why do we walk toward danger?” Treating hundreds of patients afflicted by this high-virulence pathogen is scary. Our contact with it can kill us. And we risk infecting our loved ones at home. . .

What brings out our best in horrific times is our connection with each other, our “being with.” The danger mobilizes our shared relationships and focuses our skill. In any of these good connections, we feel more energy, value and understanding of each other, more empowered to act, and a desire to connect again. We come out of these encounters more ready to “do the right thing” for patients, our team, and our selves. We might have felt that we could not go on for another minute, but then—in the connecting—our resilience and energy returns! Good connection makes good care. . .

This is what keeps us going through hard times like these. Simply put, it’s a shift to the “We.” Working together under this pressure brings forth the “we”—and then the “we” strengthens the connection.

Or as Navy Federal Credit Union headlined their annual report several decades ago: “Our strength is our union.”

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