Tumultuous. Chaotic. Stressful. Unprecedented. No matter what word you use, 2020 was a year like no other, and family physicians were thrust into the middle of it, forced to adapt to support their communities—and each other. As 2020 comes to a close and we embark on a new year, ACOFP members share the biggest, hardest and most meaningful lessons they learned in 2020.

“Staying on top of email since we no longer having many opportunities for in person communication.”
—Danielle Barnett-Trapp, DO

“Putting my own mental and physical health first. While this is something we all know and hopefully practice, this pandemic created a unique problem as I didn’t feel there was really anywhere I could turn for emotional support. Non-healthcare friends and neighbors didn’t understand we were going through the same fears and struggles as them, plus the emotional toll of patients becoming ill and dying in record numbers, while watching large group gatherings continue to happen everywhere we turned. As this pandemic has gone on, I felt we went from “heroes” to “villains” in many circles, yet we still must continue to provide quality care to our patients and be present for our families. Listening to my emotions and refocusing on my own wellness has been critical to my practice’s success.”
—Anastasia Benson, DO

“How vulnerable we all are in health and security.”
—Elizabeth Carr, DO

“It is important to be able to adapt to changes and keep up with what is coming so you can be prepared to act quickly and stay viable. I have been active with my state and national organizations, which prepared me for telemedicine, made me aware of opportunities for PPE loans and other necessary assistance available during this difficult year.”
—Linda Delo, DO, FACOFP

“Despite having views that I feel are contrary to my world view, health and safety, I find I am able to provide compassionate care to all. I am still able to meet a human being with the mutual goal of wellness and continue their journey with them.”
—DeAundre A Dyer, DO; Resident Governor, ACOFP Board of Governors

“That things can always change (sometimes quickly) and I need to have the flexibility to be able to adapt.”
—Melinda Ford, DO, FACOFP; Chair, ACOFP Membership Committee

“Learning a new way to practice medicine and take care of patients. Incorporating telemedicine into our practice and working out the kinks seemingly overnight ushered in a completely new/additional modality to practice medicine, which will likely a permanent fixture to some degree moving forward. Nothing in medicine has ever moved so quickly before.”
—Garrett L. Kirkpatrick, DO

“The realization early in the pandemic that we needed to rely on our experience with the AIDS epidemic to remain calm and safe as we learned what the virus was all about. The benefit of that approach has provided immense benefits to my colleagues, staff members, patients and families—but especially, among my own family.”
—Jorge D. Luna DO, FACOFP

“Health care is not an assumed priority. It can be derailed by politicization, and we have to be cognizant going forward that the public does not always value science and common sense!”
—Saroj Misra, DO, FACOFP; Governor, ACOFP Board of Governors

“Set expeditions and provide explanations!”
—Sipa Patel, DO

“Be able to change practice and business strategy on the fly. Work in difficult, challenging and sometimes dangerous conditions, yet remain calm, professional and effective.”
—Robert Pedowitz, DO, FACOFP; Chair, ACOFP Practice Management Committee

“Remain humble and always give your best.”
—Sherrita Polk, DO

“How to always find a way to make it work no matter what challenges are placed before you.”
—Christopher Scuderi, DO; Vice-Chair, ACOFP Practice Management Committee

“Resilience of my patients and belief in me.”
—Harold Sirota, DO, FACOFP

“Patience.”
—Steven Rubin, DO, FACOFP dist.; ACOFP Past President

“With social distancing measures and an increase in televisits with our patients, 2020 has only solidified how much is lost when touch is absent—something, we as osteopathic family physicians have always known from our training. However, I remained inspired by the creativity and ways that we have found virtually-built connection.”
—Jaclyn Sylvain, DO

“COVID-19 really has had a negative impact on my practice manifested by a 20%-30% reduction in patient encounters, thus a 20%-30% reduction in collections.”
—Horatio Sprague Taveau IV, DO, MBA, FACOFP

“Personal safety!”
—Rodney M. Wiseman, DO, FACOFP dist.; ACOFP Past President

What did you learn in 2020? Share your lessons learned in the comments below.

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