Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all (hopefully!) realized that many professions we often take for granted or are somewhat unnoticed are ones that we really depend upon in a situation of emergency, although we do not usually consider them as such.
People who work in demanding shift jobs, such as organizing supplies on our supermarket shelves, cashiers, public transport workers and obviously pharmacists and nurses have all of a sudden become “essential workers”, ones that we cannot do without for our survival.
One profession which is regarded as such in ordinary times – non-pandemic times – is that of medical doctors. We all know that we are indebted to this profession and that “doctors save lives”. And accordingly, we have a high regard for their work.
But what happens when doctors themselves must risk their lives to perform their jobs? How many of the people who enroll in this demanding (but also well appreciated) profession consider that their work might involve risks to their health and safety?
The recent pandemic has put us all in the same boat, or, more precisely, left some of us on a safer and more comfortable position on the boat, while others had to take a high risk position to keep that boat going.
In an interesting qualitative study, Karakose and Malkoc (2021) invite us to learn about what happens behind the scenes of the profession, namely – what was the experience of medical doctors in Turkey at the time of the pandemic, and the toll of working with an unknown virus on their psychological well-being and mental health.
Unsurprisingly, doctors reported experiencing anxiety, as well as the fear of transmitting Covid-19 to their family members. Fear of death was mentioned amongst other factors that affected their mental health.
When asked how they coped with the pandemic, doctors mentioned following the requirement to adhere with social distancing, as well as hygiene regulations, but also, the function of religion amongst other tools for self-care.
I recommend this manuscript for anyone who is interested in learning how people from the medical profession reacted to this new challenge in their professional work and personal life, and what tools they used to maintain their well-being.
But above all, I also hope that we will not have to put this practical knowledge into practice in our lifetime once more.
Keren Segal | Associate Editor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal