Respect the Disease Process—Don’t Fear It
Kim Orton, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Coordinator for Epilepsy within the Division of Neurology, shares some insights on what it's like returning to the workplace and how we can keep each other safe.

f there is one thing I have learned in this pandemic, it is that the only thing I have complete control over is myself and the way that I think. There is a saying I like to use as a reminder to myself and my patients, "Respect the disease process. Don't fear it." The Department of Pediatrics and Primary Children's have implemented guidelines and rules to help guide my actions and keep me safe. It is still up to me to determine how I am going to respond to those guidelines and rules, but knowing they are there for the betterment of myself and those around me keeps me motivated to follow them. 

When teaching others how to respond to a seizure, the first line of defense that I like to give them is, remain calm. They are the ones in charge of setting the tone for that environment. The same can be said for how we return to the workplace. You are in charge of setting the tone for those around you and you are an example for how to act and what to do. By doing this, you empower others around you to respond in a similar fashion.

Here are some things I noticed when I returned to the workplace:

  • Wearing a mask: Wearing a mask all day is difficult, but it is just like anything else I have to get used to doing–like wearing contacts or glasses. I have found that the more I do it, the easier it gets and the less I notice. 

  • Elevator use: If you have been wanting to use the stairs more, now is your chance. If there is not enough room to safely distance myself in the elevator, I either wait for the next one or take the stairs. 

  • Six feet distancing: This one is by far the hardest for me to follow because I am a close talker. When I get too close, my coworkers politely remind me to step back so I am able to follow this guideline. 

When all of us work together, our workplace becomes a safe place. I don't know about you, but I love visiting with my patients and their families. There is nothing better than human connection. I hope that you will join me in returning back to the workplace without fear. I look forward to seeing the variety of fun masks that are out there and reconnecting with my coworkers. Until then, stay safe. You can do it.

Adapted from Thriving in Pediatrics May 27, 2020.


Kim Orton

Pediatric Clinical Nurse Coordinator for Epilepsy, Division of Neurology, University of Utah Health

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