Thriving in the Pandemic
Emergency medicine physicians and other health care professionals working on the frontline of the pandemic are facing many difficult decisions from personal to clinical e.g. rationing care, the possibility of becoming ill and infecting our loved ones, seeing our patients’ fears and loneliness and not being able to allow visits etc. Even when we make the best decision, all things considered, there is still a cost. By recognizing these decisions as moral dilemmas and learning ways to talk about them and to work with them, we can avoid moral distress and instead, move together towards moral resilience.
We know from research of previous pandemics (e.g. Ebola) that they can create a legacy of long-term trauma and burn out but this can be avoided with proper support. In our session together, you will learn the definition and nuances of moral distress in the clinical setting so that we have a shared language. We will open up the often ignored topic of grief and loss and a way to work with the extraordinary suffering we witness as clinicians during this time.
These sessions always have an experiential component where you will learn and practice simple contemplative neuroscience-based meditation techniques to add to your resiliency toolbox (as you are already incredibly resilient if you are a clinician!).
Please listen to my interview on EM Pulse podcast for a sample of this content and see here for information about booking one-on-one sessions.
Recent speaking engagements with this content
Kings County/SUNY Downstate Emergency Medicine resident and attending physicians - 4/20
The Brooklyn Hospital Center Emergency Medicine Department - 4/20
Newark Beth Israel Emergency Medicine resident and attending physicians (2 hours) - 5/20
Bon Secours Charity Health System all staff COVID townhall - 5/20
NYU Emergency Medicine nursing group - 5/20
COVID Nurses facebook group - 6/20
Brookdale Hospital Emergency Medicine Department - 6/20
Harbor-UCLA Emergency Medicine Department - 11/20
UC Davis Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery - 11/20
"We were thrilled to have Dr. Wendy Lau lead a session on "Wellbeing during the Pandemic and Beyond" at our Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) virtual network meeting. She met with us before the lecture to understand the specific challenges of our global audience of over 300 people from 10 countries. Participants not only felt heard and their feelings validated, but because of the unique integration of guided meditation, were able to come away with some practical tools to deal with future stress. Dr. Lau's passion for helping health care workers shines brightly, and her work and healing messages are incredibly important and needed."
Amy Benson, MD - Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation Malawi
"Besides the very well done meditation session and discussion about various aspects of burnout, the one part of Wendy's talk that really affected me was her guided meditation on self compassion and self forgiveness. It's a lot less often discussed, but incredibly important when it comes to us dealing with all that we face in the ED. I think it also really helps normalize a lot of the feelings that end up getting us even more down. It was a truly impactful experience and I highly recommend it."
Andrew Grock, MD - Harbor-UCLA Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
"Dr. Lau was an extraordinary resource for our global health group reaching providers from 10 countries and 5 continents during a virtual network meeting in November 2020. She effortlessly guided us through helpful meditation, self-reflection and team building exercises with compassion and cultural competence. Following the workshop our team provided glowing reviews as her support and gentle coaching was culturally cross cutting and so needed in this extraordinary time."
Sarah Perry, MD, MPH - Pediatrician, Texas Children's Global Health Service Corps, Baylor Clinic, Mbabane, Swaziland
"My emergency medicine residency program had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Lau to speak. Her personal experience in medicine made the discussion she led on grief pertinent, profound, and was able to hit at the heart of concepts that our residents and attending physicians encounter on a daily basis. Especially for an emergency medicine program amidst a global pandemic, the lessons on disenfranchised grief, compassion for our own limitations, and methods to recognize and honor the suffering of our patients, provided an invaluable practical application to the way our residents think of their practice of medicine."
Michael Tetwiler, MD, MPH - Harbor-UCLA, Emergency Medicine Resident (Class of 2021)
"I asked Wendy to lead a session on Resiliency with the staff of the hospital system where I work, which is located 30 minutes north of New York City. We have navigated some incredibly challenging times amidst the pandemic, with a range of experiences that have left many of us searching for deeper resources on how to continue as effective caregivers. Wendy’s lived experience as a ED doctor along with her compassionate understanding of ethical and moral challenges within the medical setting, allow her to talk with integrity and insight to the clinical audience. She guided us through reflections and brief meditations amidst her didactic, and created space for us to discover resources within ourselves and within our very community. It was positively transformative, and exactly what was needed. I am most appreciative of her work, and look forward to the next opportunity to have her again!"
Mary Remington, Director, Spiritual Care Department, Good Samaritan Hospital
"In the context of this pandemic, the chaotic state of the world, and the enormous pressures on our surgical trainees, our faculty have found the sessions that Dr. Wendy Lau provides to be incredibly helpful. The content is directed at specific aspects of our contextual differences, filled with logic and warmth, and overwhelmingly valuable.
Some comments from our residents include:
-'I thought both sessions were great. We need time to decompress and to focus on the present by meditating but then it was really nice to be able to share things that we are too busy to share or we suppress.'
-'I enjoyed the sitting practice and unified us as a group. I think the council format for discussion is necessary.'
-'Helpful sharing session allowing team to vent/decompress . Perhaps more time dedicated to this portion to allow responses/reactions to people’s comments.'
-'Enjoyed both practices. Thought they were conducted well.'
-'Believe these to be valuable sessions. Looking forward to the next one.'
-'As we move through 2020, a moment to sit amongst our colleagues, to focus on our breath, calm our spinning minds and open our hearts is welcomed and necessary . Thank you'"
Travis Tollefson MD, MPH - UC Davis Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery - Director, Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Please let me know how I can serve you and your group/department. You can reach me with the form at the bottom of this page.
Much respect and thank you,
A Little About Dr. Lau
Dr. Wendy Lau is an Emergency Medicine physician who trained at Kings County/SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn NY. She finished a fellowship in Sports Medicine at Northwell Health and has worked in emergency departments in New York and Maine. She has a passion for physician wellness and is currently enrolled in a chaplaincy training program at Upaya Zen Center where she now lives and studies Zen Buddhism.
Recently, she has been leading support groups, one-on-one support sessions and giving talks about ways to work with the unique emotional toll of working in the frontline of the pandemic. She strongly believes that having a common language, opening the conversation early and learning basic skills based on contemplative neuroscience can let us move towards resilience and healing.