For centuries, the voice and opinion of medical doctors has been layered with trust and authority from our society. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this voice carries a sense of urgency as physicians are charged with conveying a message of hope through information, while still attempting to understand the nuances of the pandemic themselves.
Dr. David Hicks is the Deputy Director of Jefferson County Health Department. His perspective reveals the challenge of sharing the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine in an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear, and apprehension. As a healthcare professional, this challenge is further heightened by the influx of misinformation that cascades along solid information in the midst of a never-ending feeding frenzy ignited by the internet, social media, as well as broadcast media (e.g., news channels, blogs, etc.).
“We have to realize the power that we as physicians have, to change the trajectory and the behaviors of a community,” Dr. Hicks explains how his peers have an unspoken power to educate and inform the public in a way that translates complex nuggets of information into digestible, layman’s terms.
Dr. Hicks believes that the pandemic, and subsequent vaccines, have made physicians more crucial to the current communications platform.
There are three steps physicians can take to retain their trusted role in the community:
Get comfortable with the knowledge and information.
Stay updated on new developments.
Pass on the information in a distilled way, to the people.
“If there’s a void, someone is going to fill it,” Dr. Hicks warns. In order to protect the true information, and those working diligently to share it, the physicians must continue to work within their sphere of influence to correct ill-formed people, get them back to center on the facts so that they can make educated decisions that can have preventative, positive impacts on their health.