Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, doctors have seen many bad things and experienced burnout like never before. We have seen unprecedented numbers of patients, as well as colleagues, die. The whole medical landscape and the way we practice medicine has changed, from requiring COVID testing before simple procedures to mask wearing and keeping our patients physically distanced. We were forced to learn about a new pathogen while having no tools to fight it and, at the same time, being essentially thrown under the bus by our political leaders.

Yet, there are many reasons to be thankful. We now have a vaccine to help reduce the rates of transmission and decrease the risks of hospitalizations and death. This vaccine has now been updated to cover the new strains circulating. Additionally, there is now a new anti-viral medication to be used in high-risk infected patients. While COVID lives on, we have new ways to fight it.

People are also paying more attention to their healthcare. Patients are more aware of risk factors and taking steps to promote their own health. Patients who take interest in their health will have better outcomes. Some information coming out may be ill-informed, but there are now many voices fighting to get accurate information out there.

While the media tends to sometimes vilify healthcare professionals, I think most of our patients empathize with what we are going through these days. Feeling unified with our patients makes the hard parts of the job seem much easier.

Medical research advances at amazing speeds. Despite other areas of the medical field that were put on pause or slowed down, our quest for knowledge never has. We continue to make breakthroughs in medicine. While COVID batters us, the information we attain through the study of it continues to grow. As many are now starting to consider the implications of “long COVID,” research already exists to enable some understanding of it. Acquiring further knowledge about it is another field to look forward to it. Despite the struggles, researchers did not, and will not, stop their fight to fully understand what we need to know in medicine.

We can also be thankful for our colleagues who have weathered this storm with us, from the most specialized physicians to the nurses who never take a break to the staff who keep the hospitals clean. Despite the risks they faced, they never stopped coming to work. Knowing there is a place available whenever someone needs medical attention is something everyone can appreciate.

In our current economic environment, we can all be grateful for having jobs that we never have to worry about. Others are struggling to keep food on the table. Some have lost their jobs and others became disabled because of this viral pestilence. Many small businesses have closed their doors. As some small practices have also shut down, the people who worked there had plenty of job opportunities in medicine available.

Despite the bleakness of the past 2 years, we have plenty to be thankful for. People trust us with their lives. We have the opportunity to help people change their health for the better. As doctors, we see the first breath of life a person takes and often witness their last words. We meet people from all walks of life, from the homeless to the superstars. While the world continues to put the new medical landscape that COVID has initiated into perspective, we can continue to be thankful for the great honor it is to be a doctor.