Another Year with COVID

13 Jan 2022

By Kathleen Skipton Romanowski, MD, MAS, FACS

 A little over a year ago, I sat down to write a blog piece for the Association of Women Surgeon  (AWS) Blog that was to be published on December 24th. It was a lighthearted blog piece about how to handle the holidays when you are a parent and a surgeon.  As I wrote it, I was joyful. I was writing about a topic I am passionate about (integrating my life as a surgeon and a mother) and on top of that my mood was buoyed with the thought that I had just received my first dose of the COVID vaccine.  I naively thought that this was the beginning of the end and that maybe by the 2021 holiday season, we would be back to normal.

Oh, how wrong I was!  For me, 2021 and the ebbing and flowing of the pandemic has been a struggle.  In many ways, this year of ups and downs was harder for me than the initial months of fear.  I am a burn surgeon, so in my clinical world, I am very used to having to deal with uncertainty and wait for patients to make progress towards healing.  I am used to patients making progress and then having setbacks and eventually making progress towards healing again.  I should have been well-suited to deal with the ever-changing COVID situation, but I did not handle it well and struggled to find motivation to accomplish things beyond my clinical tasks.

Throughout these long, hard months, the AWS blog was one of my constants each week.

Truly, my purpose in writing this piece is as a thank you to everyone involved with the blog for being my lifeline during this rough year.

I have been a part of the Association of Women Surgeons blog team for a little over 2 years. As the Faculty Chair of the Blog Subcommittee, I have the distinct privilege of working with an amazing group of women and men to bring you this blog every week.  This group of surgeons, residents, and medical students are truly wonderful. They are so dedicated to editing and posting this blog each week and are a joy to work with and to know.

Leading this group, I have also had the opportunity to read most of the blog pieces that we have published. It is your stories and determination that helped me push through when I was struggling.  Through the blog, I have learned about the lives and experiences of some wonderful women surgeons.  Our authors inspire me with their experiences, and commitment to the field of surgery.  I am also fortified by the grace with which they handle the challenges that are placed in front of them.  I am so proud of the willingness of the authors to guide those who are less experienced than them through the process of becoming a surgeon.  All the blog authors and the blog committee were my weekly reminder of what was right with the world and our profession.  I am so proud to have spent this year with you all and I look forward to the future.  Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2022!

Kathleen Romanowski, MD, FACS is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of California, Davis and Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California in the Division of Burn Surgery. She attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed her general surgery residency at University of Chicago Medical Center. She did fellowships in Burn Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at University of California, Davis and Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California. Kathleen is devoted to the care of the burn injured patient and studies disparities in care and predictors of outcomes in elderly burn patients.  She is an active member of AWS and is a member of the AWS Communications Committee. You can find her on twitter at @KSRomanowski.

 Our blog is a forum for our  members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

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