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One ER Doc’s Journey Through the Pandemic — and the Health Care System

22 minutes

Thomas Fisher is an emergency room doc in Chicago. His book, The Emergency, is an up-close chronicle of the COVID pandemic’s first year in his South Side ER. 


It also zooms out to tell the story of his journey as a doctor: How his upbringing on the South Side fueled his desire to become a doctor. And how the realities and inequities of American health care limited his ability to help. 


He details how the failures of the American health care system — and the racial inequities it perpetuates — leave health care workers with a profound sense of moral injury. 


“Over time, when you have this conflict between what you can do and what you're supposed to do—what you wish you could do, what you're trained to do—that creates a moral conundrum….It also leads a lot of people to leave the profession ” 


For a time, Fisher himself stepped away from practicing medicine. The journey took him to the executive suite but ultimately landed him back in the ER where he started.


On the street outside the hospital where Fisher works, he sits down with host Dan Weissmann to discuss the book and his search for meaning in the daily sprint of life in the ER. 



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