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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Maintaining Momentum in 2022

February 7th, 2022

From the start of 2022 it seems our spirit of hope and inspiration has been dampened by the recent surge of COVID-19 and the relentless impacts of the pandemic. Across the health care industry, we are faced with ongoing challenges of a changing labor market, employee burnout and the struggle to maintain wellbeing and positive mental health.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “To lose patience is to lose the battle.” During a time when we are still battling and waiting for the end of the pandemic, Gandhi’s advice rings true, both in our professional and personal lives.  

Patience and equanimity can so often provide the calming force that our patients and families need, particularly when they are vulnerable, scared or anxious. Positivity and calmness, combined with direct and transparent communications, is also something that we can practice to help our colleagues and team members in times of high stress or work pressures.

Maintaining patience is hard, even in the best of situations. But it can be nurtured and cultivated, with the help from a little bit of hope.  So, how can we better manage stress and sustain our patience in a relentless pandemic?

It takes a village

First, teamwork (one of our critical core values) and reaching out and supporting one another can help buoy our patience through the tough patches.

A brief check-in to see how others are feeling can make a world of difference when we encounter colleagues and support staff who are experiencing high stress, overburdened workloads and work-life imbalance. I have personally experienced the gratitude and appreciation of our front-line staff for just taking the time to listen and being heard, with empathy and compassion.

Please know that we are using all available resources and support staff to maintain patient safety, recruit aggressively for critical positions, mitigate risks and support you through this turbulent journey. 

We have made several operational changes within U-M Health to strike a delicate balance between meeting emergent patient needs, managing staffing, and anticipating future volumes due to deferred care. This includes postponing some elective inpatient surgeries when needed and being as flexible with our workforce as possible. 

We have put recruitment, retention and workforce stabilization strategies  in place to address our significant staffing issues. This work includes bonuses for critical positions and a Michigan Answers campaign to support recruitment efforts.

We are also advocating for you by informing the public about the stress on our system and how the community can do their part to stem the surge. We have brought our experts together to share with our communities scientific, data-based information about best practices to reduce COVID-19 transmission and illness and maintain hospital access for those who need it the most.

Protect yourself and others

The fast infiltration of the Omicron variant has caused many of our employees to become infected, even among those vaccinated. It’s important for us to role model the best preventative measures against this pandemic, which begins by getting your vaccinations and booster shot, if eligible.

Although the vaccines and booster are our best weapon against the pandemic, it is important to continue to be vigilant about social distancing and wearing masks. Guidance around masking and PPE has been updated, including wearing medical-grade masks vs. single-layer cloth masks, neck gaiters and bandanas at all Michigan Medicine facilities. 

Pause for wellness

In our personal lives, it is critically important now that we pause, and exercise the patience that it takes to slow down, self-assess and practice self-care. Burnout is all too common in health care, but exponentially so now, when some physicians and other care providers feel compelled to leave medicine. Our oath to help people and do no harm starts with ourselves, to ensure we are equipped, able and in the right frame of mind to care for others.

Patience is difficult to nurture during these times, so it is important to be accepting and compassionate with yourself. Recognize that there are so many things out of our control, but we can focus instead on how we have a positive impact on those around us, especially when we work together. This can cultivate a bit of patience, and a sense of hopefulness.

If needed, remember to visit the Wellness Office for resources, reach out to The Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience  or check out these additional well-being resources

The reality is that remaining ever-patient during this pandemic is incredibly hard, but every day I witness moments of tremendous patience and caring, not only among those who care for our patients, but among faculty, staff and learners who exhibit great professionalism despite daily obstacles laid in their path by this pandemic. Thank you for your tremendous dedication and perseverance during these difficult times. 

Do you have suggestions for cultivating patience during these challenging times? Please share in the discussion box below.


  • This pandemic has taught me a lot about self care and it’s importance. As adults we must be conscientious of parenting ourselves; checking in and evaluating our emotions, acknowledging them and be patient and gentle with ourselves. The world (technology) is developing at a fast rate that our brains are just having difficulty adjusting with and then compound that with the pandemic it’s a lot it’s tough! However I choose to be optimistic in that this pandemic has placed a spotlight on the disconnect between humans. They said social media would connect people from all over the world yet it’s marginalized a great deal of us and in a world that’s both disconnected and tone deaf, how do you reunite humanity? Through discussions, dialogue, community, grace, humility! So not all is lost or hopeless in our present moment it’s building and strengthening us for our bigger and more profound futures!

    • I so appreciate your positive outlook for our future, which is often so difficult to see during challenging times, such as these. You said it well – dialogue, community, grace, humility – all will help to unite us. I wish the best for you, and hope you continue your own self care as we continue to respond to this pandemic.

  • I think I like the word “perseverance” better than “patience” for the current season. When I think of perseverance, I picture the tree growing out of rock on a cliff. That tree is blown by winds, battered, but it hangs on strong. It doesn’t go anywhere. Compare that to a tree grown in a greenhouse. It doesn’t have deep roots as it has never experienced the wind and the turbulence of life. That tree is easily blown over and destroyed in a storm.

    Perseverance brings strength, wisdom, and maturity. Throughout this season, people are being tested in turbulence. Each of us needs to decide if we are going to grow our roots deep and become stronger and exit the storm wiser and more mature or not. Some have never had to experience situations requiring perseverance before…they have had to grow quickly so as not to fall. No one likes to live through these types of situations in life, but if we remember that when we get to the other side, we will be stronger, wiser, and more mature…maybe we will be able to foresee the end of this storm and hang on!

    To be clear, I am not saying that people who are unable to persevere are weak. For some, this storm is hitting them much harder than for others. Even the strongest of trees can be blown down in a tornado or a hurricane! I’m simply saying, as we weather this storm together, let’s dig our roots deep, knowing that as we come out the other side of the storm, we will be better for having made it through.

    • Lynn, I like your very poetic interpretation of perseverance. I do agree that we can learn a lot from these storms in our lives and if we hang on, we will come out of this wiser and stronger. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us.

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