In the absence of our everyday routines—traveling to work, running to the gym, shopping, eating out, making plans for summer vacation—we are left to look inward. What do we see? What do we value? Who will we be when we emerge?
They say your character is revealed in times of crisis. Today we need to be strong, resilient, compassionate, and keep an eagle-eyed focus on our purpose, as meeting professionals and as citizens. It’s a time for innovative thinking on the job and in our communities, and I’m re-examining my role in the short and long term on what I can do to be proactive and helpful.
Here are six areas where I’m stretching in ways that I never expected and adjusting my capabilities to meet the new demands:
Offering On-Demand Education. In my full-time job, I am a liaison to our medical school chair and acting administrator for over 150 cardiology faculty. I also manage numerous live continuing medical education conferences run by our world-class physician course directors and interprofessional committees. They are attended by physicians and clinicians, many of whom are now on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Needless to say, our live educational programming has been impacted. However, up-to-date education is more essential than ever, and to navigate the crisis, I will be launching on-demand learning and adjusting our offerings to respond to the rapidly changing needs of the times. Like my colleagues from around the country, we are adapting and looking towards systems like Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex, and other providers.
Helping Colleagues Adapt. I am also an adjunct professor at a leading university where all classes have shifted online until the end of the semester. Some colleagues have never taught remotely and are finding it challenging to adapt to our online platform, Blackboard. Having transitioned to teaching online a few years back due to my work schedule, I know how difficult this can be. I’ve begun volunteering to help train our teachers in the new normal.
Remaining Healthy and Active. For me, wellness means gym workouts, and so I’ve purchased a few exercise videos and pairs of two-, five-, and eight-pound weights to help me revive my routine. And when I do venture out to go food shopping, I make sure to bring home lots of fruits and vegetables and thwart the temptation to bring home too many snacks. Whatever staying healthy means for you, stick with it!
Helping Furry Friends. Working from home I’m busier than ever but hearing that my local animal shelter is short staffed, I’ve offered to help foster until it is back to full strength. What organizations need help in your community?
Staying Connected. I’m calling, emailing, texting, and video-chatting on What’s App (it’s free) like never before to stay in touch with people locally as well as my BFFs in Paris and Toronto. It’s especially important to reach out to my older friends who may be having a tougher time dealing with being sequestered in their homes. In my apartment building, we started a group text to keep in touch. For our handy man, who is working double time sanitizing mailboxes and cleaning our lobby more frequently, we took up a collection and gave him a thank you card to show our appreciation.
Keeping the Faith. As Easter and Passover approach, for me it is the Lenten season. Archdioceses across the country have canceled Masses because of coronavirus, but I’ve been amazed what spiritual resources are available online, from The Archdiocese of Chicago offering Masses in English, Polish, and Spanish, to the East End Temple in Manhattan livestreaming Shabbat services from its beautiful sanctuary in Lower Manhattan.
In this moment of disruption and uncertainty, I remember a favorite quote from Edith Wharton: “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Together, we will get through this. How will you remember this moment in time? What will you choose to do today to positively impact our tomorrow?
Arlene Karole, CHCP, CMP, MSA, is director, Cardiology Office of Academic Engagement, Education and Communications, Northwell Health, Cardiology Service Line.