What keeps me going.

Zaki Azam MD

Montefiore Medical Center, Resident

April 21, 2020


This week I was called in to the Emergency Room to cover someone who was sick. Being on the front line of a global pandemic at a tertiary care center in one of the most populated cities in the world is not only surreal. It’s scary. Not the type of scare you get from running out of groceries at the supermarket. I was scared of potential cases I was coming into contact with, scared that my mask wasn’t fitting properly on my face, scared that I wasn’t wearing the correct type of mask to begin with, that I would touch it with dirty gloves by mistake. My face literally hurts from wearing a mask 13 hours a day. My head hurts from trying to find a mask in the chaos of people frantically searching for it. I am physically exhausted because the personal protective equipment hurts my body, the constant use of sanitizer dries out my skin, wearing a gown over my scrubs makes it hard not to heat up. I’m mentally exhausted from all the confusion and disorganization that change how we practice just about every day, which expectedly occur when dealing with something we just don’t know enough about. I am frustrated by the inefficiencies that have highlighted such a broken health care system in our country.


And I’m not alone in this. The doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, technicians that work tirelessly day & night risking their lives to look after the infected is what keeps me going and reminds me why I love doing what I do. For the new batch of doctors that find out where they begin training next week, let that be motivation for you too, that even in the face of difficulty regardless of where you end up, it’s the care for people that brought us into this career and is what will keep driving us forward.


Lastly, please protect yourself. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and stay home if you don’t have a reason to be out, it really is that serious. You may not feel sick enough to, but being a carrier to someone else can be far more consequential. At the end of the day, medical workers don’t have the luxury of going home and quarantining, and that’s alright. But if everyone does their parts, it makes it a lot easier for us to do ours, not just for a week but for a lifetime~


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