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

From the Directors Desk: On Human Adaptability

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

If there was any doubt in our minds about the global nature of our relationships and dependencies, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought new clarity to this topic. The COVID-19 virus is acting like a real-time tracker of human movement, demonstrating just how much we behave as a single global community. In addition, we are learning that we, as people, are highly adaptable and can do extraordinary things when called upon to do so. We can quickly pivot, change our travel plans, readjust our schedules, refocus, and get the job done. Modern technologies facilitate virtual meetings and integrated communications for the conduct of business, as we witnessed with the recent American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) virtual meeting. This is good, but frankly speaking, nothing will ever take the place of the face-to-face meetings where we affirm our place in our national communities of friends and colleagues and where we engage in rich discussion, see new possibilities, share our personal stories, and seek and provide human comfort and companionship. For the time being, we will adjust to this outbreak and hope that early preventive efforts will blunt the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to return to our customary routines in the near future. It is certain that we will lean new lessons about the nature of our global community in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we can rest assured that thanks to human adaptability and modern technologies, the speed of solutions is keeping pace with the speed of new problems.