2021 became the year of the COVID race.
In lane one we had the COVID vaccine 💉 in lane two we had COVID and its mutation capacity 🦠.
Watching this race in the crowd were the variables of vaccination hesitancy, vaccination side effects and protests.
But the loudest cheering 📣 ended up coming from the wider community in response to getting vaccinated 👏🏼 . Supporting this entire race were the healthcare professionals working tirelessly to provide everyone with the best care they could, day in, day out in spite of the chaos.
As some of these healthcare professionals from the onthewards Team reflect on the year that was, we appreciate the importance of looking at the silver lining and highlight the positives in such a trying year.
This year we welcomed our daughter, Odette. She has been a shining light in a year otherwise overshadowed by the fear, exasperation and separation driven by COVID. Being in the hospital as a patient gave me a different perspective on how healthcare workers have approached the immense challenges posed by the pandemic. I felt incredibly grateful to live in a country that provides free and (mostly) accessible healthcare, and was ever thankful for the tireless care and enthusiasm of my team of treating nurses and doctors and allied health workers.
– Antonia Clarke, Neurology Advanced Trainee
It’s been a tough year for everyone navigating the ever-changing restrictions due to COVID-19. I’m feeling very lucky to have gotten through the year with colleagues who are incredibly kind and supportive.
– Jane McDonnell, Obstetrics & Gynaecology Registrar
My reflection is that despite 2021 being another rollercoaster year for everyone, the power of nature and beauty of our local environment, seen during my daily well-being runs, has kept me focused on what is important and what remains stable throughout change in the rest of my life.
– Charlotte Hespe, General Practitioner, Chair RACGP NSW & ACT
My biggest achievement of 2021, is stepping back from full time work to prioritise my priorities.
– Thomas Finn, Intensive Care Consultant
If life is a journey, then 2021 was that part – as happens in any trip – where you learn an important lesson about how you weren’t quite as well prepared as you had thought.
It might be the warm jacket you forgot, the new shoes you were sure would be comfortable but aren’t – there’s always a lesson for next time. Sometimes it’s a lesson you’ve already learned but have forgotten.
2021 taught (reminded) me that a person just can’t do everything well all the time. That survival is a perfectly acceptable and noble achievement, and that even when you simply lurch from crisis to crisis and heaps of balls get dropped, there can be dignity in just showing up the next day no matter what unsatisfying mess it holds.
2021 has been a hell of a year. Not all bad – not by any means – but not good, overall. I learned to make my peace with a crummy year and accept that getting through is enough. I look forward to seeing you all next year, and I promise no judgements no matter where you’re at. Pass it on.
– Chris Elliot, Consultant Paediatrician
As we come to the end of 2021 – this photo taken during the year represents all the hard work in preparing the health response to COVID 19 pandemic. There are many who were not directly involved in caring for patients with COVID, but without all of their collective efforts NSW Health would not have been able to serve the community through the challenging times.
With uncertain times ahead, I wish that you all take some time for self care and enjoy some much needed family time, no matter how brief. We can only do our best for our patients when we are rested and rejuvenated. Stay safe and well.
– Nhi Nguyen, Clinical Director Intensive Care NSW – Agency Clinical Innovation
2021 was not the year of residency that I (or anyone) expected. It started with two months of recovery after surgery, in which time I came to appreciate my colleagues more than ever. Their support, generosity, and willingness to help in and out of work really helped me get back on my feet and reminded me how lucky I am to work with such incredible people. After a brief return to ‘normal’, I found myself spending a couple of months working on a COVID ward, again reminded of their strength and selflessness. Vaccines and improved PPE made this wave less threatening than the first, but it was my wonderful colleagues that really made the difference. Watching the sunrise over the Parramatta River at the end of each night was a lovely moment of peace at the end of a night shift.
– Lucy Coles, Resident
This is my favourite image of the year of my favourite beach when I managed to sneak back to my home town in Western Australia between border closures earlier in the year. We didn’t escape completely unscathed, our trip ended in lockdown after 1 case of COVID in Perth.
– Tom Ayton, Ophthalmology Registrar
What a year to be thrust onto the frontlines as a rural generalist intern. Health services stretched pre-pandemic to breaking point at a standstill as deferred and diverted care flooded back into the system desperately needing attention. The race to educate and inoculate underserviced communities before the virus made its great escape inland to the towns of the Murray-Darling Basin (pictured below). As 2021 draws to a close, the vaunted COVID Christmas peak approaching, I am so grateful to have played a part in seeing off the worst. It has come at significant cost.
– Amy Coopes, Intern
2021 was the year my appendix almost killed me and I (re)discovered what an amazing healthcare system we have. My wonderful friends showered me in kindness and the unexpected similarity between this flower in a bouquet and a coronavirus made me laugh until my port sites ached. When the world seems impossibly big and bad and complicated, I find cherishing such small moments of joy an important part of my personal wellness.
– Rhea Liang, General and Breast Surgeon
I took this photo on a Sydney lockdown walk. I felt very grateful for my circumstances during lockdown, especially having such a beautiful location near home. Now that I’ve moved rurally, Sydney is still very much in my thoughts. I’m thinking of friends and family working in healthcare and education particularly, and how they will cope as NSW opens up. I’m also feeling happy for us all to be experiencing more freedom again, and I can’t wait to see my friends and family again after months.
I think the thing I’m most proud of for 2021 is to have helped with the COVID vaccine roll-out.
– Elizabeth Campbell, General Practitioner
My cat bored with lockdown delivered an ultimatum!
– Jules Willcocks, Emergency Physician
This year can be summarised by Patches O’Houlihan’s 5 d’s of Dodgeball… Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. As final year medical students we have had to dodge covid during our placements, duck the constant internet issues, dip into newfound mental strength and resilience, dive into our 1000th lesson on PPE and dodge COVID again and again.
Congratulations to all those graduating as the class of 2021! Somehow we made it!
Good luck for next year as I’d like to add a 6th letter D… Doctors.
– Eloise Sobels, Medical Student
I reflect on 2021 as a whirlwind of clinical and education growth with turbulence and shifting changes from 2020 that continue to linger and shape our lives. I am most proud of passing my RACGP Fellowship exams which come with so much sacrifice personally and for those that support you through it. This year I have continued my work in medical education at the University of WA and the experience of exams causes me to reflect on long standing medical education practices and assessment and continue to question how we can serve students better. My photo is from a trip to Yindjibarndi country, my Country, and reminds me of connectedness and family – the importance of both cannot be underestimated for myself , for my family , for patients and for the communities in which we live and work.
– Talila Milroy, General Practitioner
I am proud of having served alongside other junior doctors on the COVID-19 ward at the height the pandemic in Sydney.
As a clinician and a researcher, balancing family, full-time clinical work and a higher degree has reinforced the importance of dedicating time for quiet and space to think independently amidst the chaos and noise and prioritising and trying not to fall into the trap of filling up the day with the easy gratification of accomplishing purely reactive pursuits.
– Elie Matar, Neurology Advanced Trainee
At the end of 2021 we can now appreciate the new perspectives that were gained, the lessons that were learnt and re-learnt, the value of showing kindness to yourself and being present even in the smallest of moments.
Moving into 2022 there is hope to see family again, to travel beyond 5 kms from home and some sense of normality returning as we try to understand what ‘living with COVID’ means.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy break over the holiday season, see you on 10 January 2022.
Look after each other.
onthewards Team ❤️