American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

From the Director's Desk

2021: What Now?

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

Back from the holidays, all refreshed and ready to go, but ready for what?  We all changed the calendar to 2021, rang in the new year, and at least some of us were eager to leave 2020 behind; it was a taxing year by any measure. Seeing news of the availability and distribution of multiple effective vaccines, and even knowing people who have received the first doses, brings hope that in 2021 we will see major progress towards managing the pandemic.

That said, nobody is stepping up to forecast the month or season when we might safely resume the lives we enjoyed before the pandemic, as it is too soon for anything beyond speculation. Much of what will happen in 2021 will depend on information that is not knowable at this time, such as how long will COVID-19 immunity last and when will we reach herd immunity? For the time being, we can expect to pick up where we left off before the holidays—and that includes remote working and learning.

As we return to our virtual world, we should take stock of all that we accomplished in 2020; it was really a remarkable year!  We will do best if we reflect on the good we have done, take inventory of what we must next do, anticipate course corrections, and carry on. For the staff and program leaders this means upholding the time-honored tradition of conducting retreats in January and setting new course corrections as needed. All things considered, we have seen our resilience and commitment, and this alone should bring us hope that 2021 will be a good year.