SAGES Primer for Taking Care of Yourself During and After the COVID-19 Crisis

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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COVID-19 is a pandemic which has affected almost every aspect of our life since starting globally in November 2019. Given the rapidity of spread and inadequate time to prepare for record numbers of sick patients, our surgical community faces an unforeseen challenge. SAGES is committed to the protection and care of patients, their surgeons and staff, and all who are served by the medical community at large. This includes physical health, mental health, and well-being of all involved. The fear of the unknown ahead can be paralyzing. International news media have chronicled the unthinkable situations that physicians and other health care providers have been thrust into as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These situations include making life or death decisions for patients and their families regarding use of limited health care resources. It includes caring for patients with quickly deteriorating conditions and limited treatments available. Until recently, these situations seemed far from home, and now they are in our own hospitals. As the pandemic broadened its reach, the reality that we as surgeons may be joining the front line is real. It may be happening to you now; it may be on the horizon in the coming weeks. In this context, SAGES put together this document addressing concerns on clinician stressors in these times of uncertainty. We chose to focus on the emotional toll of the situation on the clinician, protecting vulnerable persons, reckoning with social isolation, and promoting wellness during this crisis. At the same time, the last part of this document deals with the "light at the end of the tunnel," discussing potential opportunities, lessons learned, and the positives that can come out of this crisis.