A Balancing Act
As the year 2020 comes to an end and a new year begins, balancing all aspects of life will still be a challenge for most of us. I want to highlight the direction of our college and then assess how to navigate the obstacles we all face. Overall the AOCOO-HNS has fared well throughout the Covid-19 year. Our management team, under the leadership of Ralph McClish, has steered us out of the 2020 Annual Clinical Assembly (ACA) without taking a large financial hit. This annual May conference, as many will recall, had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team is working hard along with our educational committee to put together our first virtual ACA conference for 2021. Although many of us were hoping for an in person ACA meeting in New Orleans in 2021, we are optimistic the 2022 ACA in Puerto Rico will be a great time for us all to gather again face to face.
The holidays are fast approaching as I write this article. The leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping as most of us are heading into the winter months. With the colder weather and the time change causing it to get darker earlier, many of us will be spending more time indoors. The ongoing pandemic finds more people than ever working from home and many schools are doing virtual learning. Restaurants and bars and entertainment facilities are partially or completely closed. As a result most American families have to discover new ways to balance their lives. We are all struggling to figure out how to conduct the holiday season in a safe way, and still try to see or communicate in some fashion with our friends and family.
Many traditions will creatively have to be altered this year. Zoom gatherings will become the new normal for holiday parties, or there will have to be social distancing and mask wearing for those who do gather in person to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. As bleak as this may sound, it is a great opportunity for the traditional American spirit to rise up and conquer this pandemic. We have always been a nation of resiliency. We have had to put aside our differences and band together many times in our history. This is definitely a time where we all need to join hands and work as one nation to overcome this virus.
Due to the pandemic, in our own professions, we have experienced weeks of not being able to perform elective surgeries. Many of our offices have had reduced patient volume and employee issues as we deal with the Covid-19 virus. This has led to some forced time away from our careers, allowing us to do other things we may have been putting off due to our busy schedules. In order to be in our occupation we are naturally driven to succeed and it can be challenging to reduce our work schedule and find balance in our lives. We are used to long hours in the office and operating room, and have struggled to find the equilibrium between work and family, as well as physical and mental health. Hopefully, if you were able to have some reprieve this past year in your work life, you were able to spend more time with family and friends, or perhaps you have had time to relax and discover/rediscover a passion you may have once had. Some good can come out of the bad times this pandemic has brought us. Changes in our work schedules and home life can help us appreciate the things that matter most.
The continued viability of our college will be dependent on our members, both current and future, to participate in the Annual Clinical Assembly. It is important to encourage our ophthalmology and otolaryngology residents to join the AOCOO-HNS and to engage in the college once they graduate from our ACGME residency programs. Residency program directors can help to facilitate this message. Currently we are in full swing with student auditions, however due to Covid-19 restrictions there are fewer students able to rotate. There does still seem to be a strong interest in our two fields amongst osteopathic students. It should be a goal to see as many of them as possible be able to match into residency programs.
In closing, as we all try to balance our lives, I'd like to quote a message I found on social media: "This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have."
From me and the team here at AOCOO-HNS, we wish all of our members a Happy Holiday season, and hopefully a better New Year!
Carl Shermetaro, DO