Medical Practice In
The Midst of Global Pandemic

An Enhancing Life Research Laboratory Exploring
Distress in the Medical Profession Spring 2021

The devastating effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic include distress and burnout among medical professionals. This dire situation goes beyond the scramble for medical supplies and a possible vaccine. The pandemic has created a swell of “orientational distress”, a term identified via the Enhancing Life Project, to name the experience of a breakdown in the patterns of self-understanding on which a professional can typically rely. In this case, the pandemic has disrupted the way medical professionals do their job, causing burnout and stress, and in the extreme depression and suicide. In the Enhancing Life Laboratories, participating physicians will explore the multiplicity of disruptive forces they encounter professionally, better understand their own “orientational distress”, and be guided in forms of inquiry and scholarly instruments developed in The Enhancing Life Project, including the resources of the world’s religions. As an outcome, the physicians will develop skills and tools to help them better navigate distressing situations and identify ways they can help enhance their medical practices. In a way, they will enact something like the ancient idea of philosophy as a way of life and also religious practice as care for the “soul.” These five-session seminars allow for collaboration between academics and physicians with the aim of meeting the urgency of this aspect of the pandemic.

This Enhancing Life Research Laboratory is funded by the Martin Marty Center of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Bucksbaum Institute