Flattening the curve of emotional distress during COVID-19

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International Journal of Academic Medicine


Aims: The aim of this article is to examine how the facilitation of narrative sessions aids in 'flattening the curve' of distress and anxiety experienced by healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods and Material: Sixty-eight participants were surveyed. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through postsession surveys, copies of stories submitted by participants, and de-identified statements captured by facilitators during the sessions. Two primary themes were used (i.e., difficult/challenging and uplifting/inspiring) to structure the writing prompt and to analyze participant stories. Using a layered account, the authors narrate their experiences as session facilitators and the anonymous experiences of session participants. Results: Results show that 90% of participants reported the ability to listen more closely, 92.5% reported improved resilience, and 92.5% reported the ability to immediately apply what they practiced or witnessed in the narrative sessions. Conclusion: Engaging in narrative writing and sharing stories verbatim in online sessions has the potential to address moral distress, increase active listening, and build resilience for health-care professionals. This article highlights the critical role of engaging health-care professionals in reflective practices to process, reflect, and share their personal and professional experiences related to the impact of COVID-19. The following core competencies are addressed in this article: Interpersonal and communication skills.

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