QF graduate emphasizes role of pandemic in highlighting scale of challenges facing doctors around the world
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, healthcare providers around the world have become more respected and valued as they work to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
This pandemic has taught me that small actions on the part of many results in a huge change, such as flattening the curve
“Today we are more appreciated than ever before,” explains Dr. Sumeja Zahirovic, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar (WCM-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner university. “However, as doctors, the postulates we follow and the values we adhere to remain the same, irrespective of the calamity we are facing now.”
She says how this pandemic has taught her that small actions on the part of many results in a huge change, such as flattening the curve. “I think we are so used to instant gratifications, instant deliveries, and instant results that actions such as social distancing are almost bizarre and may not feel like they will work. Except they do in the long run. There needs to be some major relearning.”
Recently, the number of people recovering from COVID-19 in Qatar has increased, in comparison to the number of infected people, following new protocols introduced by the government.
“We are following the latest recommendations and studies, and our healthcare system is certainly on top of things. In terms of people recovering – the number is larger simply because people are released from quarantine earlier. Evidence shows that most patients are not contagious 10 days after the first positive test,” Dr. Zahirovic says.
Education and awareness are the answer to a better understanding of how the infection is transmitted, and the groups that are most affected by the virus
However, she does warn that people should not speculate about any aspect of the pandemic at this point as new data is emerging on a daily basis, shedding light on potential post-COVID-19 scenarios.
And while people recovering from the virus face social stigma – as some individuals believe that recovered patients are still a threat to them – the mental health of these patients have to be prioritized.
“Education and awareness are the answer to a better understanding of how the infection is transmitted, and the groups that are most affected by the virus,” says Dr. Zahirovic.
We all suffer from the psychological stress caused by the measures of social separation, and there is no doubt that it is an even greater challenge for patients with mental health problems
“We all suffer from the psychological stress caused by the measures of social separation, and there is no doubt that it is an even greater challenge for patients with mental health problems. Having empathy, patience and respect can decrease that burden,” she adds.
Dr. Zahirovic started her medical journey from WCM-Q and says that the legacy of being taught at the university followed her throughout her medical career. “It prepared me to excel and to challenge myself, not to mention that the knowledge acquired in the six years at WCM-Q was more than enough to propel me through residency and fellowship.
“And I keep reaping the benefits by joining the amazing alumni network, but even more so by maintaining the unwavering friendships I developed in medical school.”
Commenting on WCM-Q’s virtual graduation for the Class of 2020, Dr. Zahirovic says: “Our students have matured in their training as future physicians and have grown as individuals during this pandemic. I feel for them for not having a proper celebration of what has been a long journey across the Premedical and Medical programs.”
However, Dr. Zahirovic says there are simply greater and better things ahead, which will be ever so more fulfilling.