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Well-Being and Assistance

ACS Offers Resources to Help You Cope with Traumatic Events

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when an event, or series of events, causes a lot of stress, it is called a traumatic event. Traumatic events are marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.1

A traumatic event affects one’s beliefs about the future, including loss of hope, limited expectations about life, fear that life will end abruptly or early, or anticipation that normal life events won’t occur, such as access to education, work opportunities, relationships, social gatherings, and more.

Reactions to trauma include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. Delayed trauma responses often are characterized by persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, flashbacks, depression, and avoidance of emotions, sensations, or activities that are associated with the trauma.2

The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide traumatic event that is filled with a series of traumatic events for individuals, families, and communities. People respond to and cope with trauma in different ways. Learning to understand one’s own stressors and burnout is critical in maintaining well-being.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains committed to your well-being and to providing resources and tools to support you as you continue to adjust life amidst the pandemic.

One step you can take today is using the ACS Surgeon Well-Being Index. This video guide is a useful resource on how to use the Physician Well-Being Index and more information is available in the user guide. To start using the tool, Associate Fellows and Fellows can use the code fellow20 and resident surgeons can use the code resident20. As always, the Well-Being Index is 100 percent anonymous—your information and score are private and your individual score will not be shared with anyone, including the ACS. Access for International members is not currently available.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury prevention. Coping with a traumatic event. Available at: Accessed June 8, 2020.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Treatment Improvement Protocol—Tip 57: Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. March 2014. Available at: Accessed June 8, 2020.

Mental Health

Mental Health of Young Physicians in China During the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak Source: JAMA

In the Face of COVID-19, the U.S. Needs to Change How it Deals with Mental Illness Source: STAT

Front-Line Doctors Face a Mental Health Crisis Amid Coronavirus. Can Medicine Overcome the Culture of Stoicism? Source: ABC News

'I'm Never Going to Be the Same': Medics Grapple with Mental Trauma on COVID-19 Front Line Source: Reuters

Pay Equity and Employment

The Unexpected Side Effect of COVID-19 Source: CNN

How U.S. Companies Can Support Employees of Color through the Pandemic Source: Harvard Business Review

Diversity and Inclusion

A 'Full-Blown She-Cession': How COVID-19 Is Economically Hurting Women, Minorities the Most Source: NBC News