Healthcare WellbeingMedical EducationTraumaDisaster Survival and Wellbeing for Healthcare

Disaster Survival and Wellbeing for Healthcare by Victoria Stephen & Roger Harris

In this podcast, Roger Harris sits down for a second time with South African Emergency Physician, Victoria Stephen (Tori).

Tori delves deeper into her first hand experience of the frightening political unrest and violence which erupted during the third wave of Covid-19 in Johannesburg in mid-2021. Managing Covid cases and gunshot wounds simultaneously was incredibly challenging both professionally and personally.

In the midst of the violence, Victoria made the courageous decision to leave the safety of her home after curfew and to drive through the riots to get to the hospital. Tori was not rostered on at the hospital that night, but she felt an overwhelming need to help her junior staff manage the chaos that was unfolding. It was a critical and intensely dangerous time in South Africa.

Reflecting on this experience, Tori emphasises the importance of a strong foundation of healthcare worker wellbeing. She identifies the need first to look after ourselves before we can look after others.

Tori speaks candidly about how she managed her own wellbeing through the three waves of Covid in South Africa. This included personally seeing a psychologist to help her process the situation, a regular exercise routine, meditating, and listening to music. In fact, Tori started a ‘survival’ playlist that other clinicians from all over the country listened and contributed to! We’ve included a link to the playlist here.

Ultimately, it is difficult to stay passionate about a job that is physically and emotionally exhausting. Staying focused on clinical medicine helps. But at the end of the day, healthcare is a tough job and it takes its toll!

Disaster Survival and Wellbeing for Healthcare by Victoria Stephen & Roger Harris

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Victoria Stephen

Passionate Emergency Physician, ED director and ICU fellow. Brave African Discussions in Emergency Medicine (BadEM) Contributor


Roger Harris

Roger Harris is a senior staff specialist in the intensive care unit at the Royal North Shore hospital and the Sydney Adventist hospital (SAN). He is dual qualified in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care. Roger is one of the co-founders of SMACC and Coda. He is passionate about education, his five children and especially his beautiful wife Georgie.