AI-generated portrait of a middle-aged doctor from western Canada

Case study: Alexa

Alexa is a physician who works in a rural area in western Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for care has placed great strain on her under-resourced and isolated community.

Even before the pandemic, Alexa often went without the equipment and supplies she needed to do her job — a problem she had raised with her superiors. Ever since her hospital started to receive COVID patients, she has sometimes had to provide suboptimal care due to its less-than-advanced equipment. She’s also had to make difficult decisions about which patients do and don’t get its limited supplies.

One day near the peak of a COVID wave, a patient arrived in need of advanced support. Alexa asked for them to be transported to a larger hospital. Despite her best efforts, the request was denied. She went on to witness first-hand as the patient declined and died in her hospital.

Alexa began to feel alone, guilty, angry, irritable — and responsible. She now experiences anxiety about going into work and has started to judge her competence as a doctor. She has experienced a moral injury and is living with the consequences.

Image generated by Midjourney.