Highs and lows for a public health resident physician

Yipeng Ge

Over 22,400 people have died from COVID-19 in Canada as I reflect today on a year into the pandemic that has shaken and touched everyone’s life in some way.

It is excruciatingly clear that the impacts of the pandemic have been neither equitable nor equal on communities and peoples. The pandemic has exaggerated the fault lines of structural vulnerability in our society, due to the systemic health inequities and social injustices that have predated the pandemic. As a society, we must learn to value health and well-being above all else—to be kind, patient, and compassionate to each and every person.

I acknowledge my privilege this past year, in having a job that I love, being able to learn from great teachers and mentors, a roof over my head, an adequate supply of food and resources, and friends and family that support me.

All in a year, I completed my last clinical rotation as a medical student, graduated from medical school, started residency training in family medicine and public health and preventive medicine, and contributed to both the healthcare and local public health response to COVID-19.

The most compelling and impactful interactions I have had over this past year have been with patients and their loved ones, and the many staff (healthcare and public health workers) who have been working continuously around the clock to support quality patient care and the community of Ottawa.

The most difficult stories and narratives were those of patients and community members living in long-term care homes and retirement homes, people without a home in precarious living situations, and people struggling with making a livable income to support their families—working essential jobs, working multiple jobs, and without paid sick leave.

It was this past year too that I moved to my new home in Sandy Hill, where I am very proud and happy to live—a place for me to continue to learn and grow as a person and as a professional.

The most important reflection that I have been reminded of time and time again is that life is precious. Our time is limited. Each moment that we have the privilege of sharing with one another is beautiful.

I went into medicine and public health wanting to tackle and think about health equity and determinants of health—it has become a practice of art and science, and most importantly, humanity and compassion for the human spirit.

Dr. Yipeng Ge takes time for a photo at CHEO.
Photo Dr. Geneviève Moineau