Physicians learn that community is essential. I had my first community with a very close-knit group of cousins. We played together and managed some mischief that was quickly squelched by our grandmother, who was our babysitter. When I entered grade school, I got into trouble because I love to talk. I was a true Scorpio. An introvert who could function as an extrovert. In college, I joined a sorority. In medical school, they assign in you to a team that starts day one in gross anatomy and continues through the clinical years. You must function as a team and study group to be successful. You become a community. You even end up partying together. One classmate gave me rides home to Birmingham from Nashville. He lived in Montgomery. He also picked me up on his way back to Nashville.
I have maintained some of these close friendships over the years. The first was with my best friend from Medical School. We call each other and try to meet up when we can. The second is with my best friend from residency. It started with Sunday night phone calls after graduation in 1990. It included meeting up for major conferences at least once a year.
When I moved back to NJ, my life was a bit more flexible so that I could meet up with friends on a more regular basis. My residency friend and I went to our meetings and met up for lunch dates. My friend from Med school, and I continue to meet up at least once a year.
I loved meeting colleagues at lunch and medical staff meetings. I always take time to talk to staff and find out how they and their families are doing. Now with the COVID pandemic, none of that can happen. The hallway chats and curbside consultations are on hold. All in-person meetings are canceled. The skype calls are rushed. I just want to say, “Let’s Breathe for just one minute together,” We are working from home and doing virtual visits with our patients.
I talked with my best friend from residency over the weekend, and we agreed to return to the Sunday night phone calls to catch up. Like the ’90s, she will call around 9 pm, and we will run down our week.