A Young Doctor Reflects on COVID

A Young Doctor Reflects on COVID

By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

The pandemic isn’t past tense. While COVID-19 vaccines have made it possible to gather with friends and hug loved ones again, the world is still living with the virus – and too many people are still dying because of it. More than a million people in the United States have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including about 250,000 people in 2022. To reflect on the lives the world has lost, we’re revisiting an episode that follows a young doctor through her first year of medical residency during the height of the pandemic. 

Kaiser Health News reporter Jenny Gold spent eight months following Dr. Paloma Marin-Nevarez, who graduated from the Stanford University medical school in June 2020, right before the virus began its second major surge. She was one of more than 30,000 new doctors who started residencies in 2020. Just weeks after graduating, Marin-Nevarez began training as an ER doctor at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, one of the areas in California hardest hit by the pandemic. 

Marin-Nevarez faces the loneliness and isolation of being a new doctor, working 80 hours a week in the era of masks and social distancing. She also witnesses the inequality of the pandemic, with Latino, Black and Native American people dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than White people. Marin-Nevarez finds herself surrounded by death and having to counsel families about the loss of loved ones. We view the pandemic through the eyes of a rookie doctor, finding her footing on the front lines of the virus. 

This is an update of an episode that originally aired in February 2021

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