As a program director, I could not be more proud of the courage displayed by the young physicians who stood at the front line and experienced this tragedy first hand. It was our role, however, as program directors to also provide an opportunity for debriefing and counseling. In the immediate days after the tragedy, we cancelled our usual conference and set aside the entire session to discuss the impact. Residents and faculty shared experiences in a safe, non-judgmental environment with other first responders. Through tears and honest conversations, trainees found the freedom to express themselves. Importantly, some residents, in the immediate aftermath experienced self-doubt as to whether they had done everything they could. They received reassurances from their more senior colleagues about their clinical decision-making. Most residents also found comfort in the ability to share the experiences.
Orlando Health provided counselors and a physician coach. These resources turned out to be more valuable than I had expected. The program director strongly encouraged residents to pursue help confidentially from this resource. Several of our residents sought out these sessions and even months and years later, found them beneficial. Some found tremendously renewed value and meaning in their professional role as a caregiver in times of crisis. Others expressed symptoms of burnout in the months after the event, a feeling they had not experienced during the prior part of their residency.