GRACE in a Pandemic – 1

This is a challenging time for physicians and the entire healthcare workforce. That’s putting it mildly. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us, physically and emotionally. In emergency medicine, we are used to dealing with stressful situations, but this pandemic brings new personal and professional challenges. We are managing severe illness for which we have no proven treatment, watching patients suffer and die alone, and living with constant worry of infecting our loved ones or even dying of the virus ourselves. Some of us are doing this in overwhelmed healthcare systems with limited resources, including personal protective equipment (PPE). How can we manage this new level of stress?  

In this miniseries, we’ll dive deeper into some of the moral challenges we are facing, and explore some ways to cope. Dr. Wendy Lau, an EM physician and wellness expert, has been studying at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center. She emphasizes the power of human connection, and offers a framework, using the mnemonic GRACE, to help us think through and prepare for difficult moral dilemmas.

How are you coping with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic? Did you find this miniseries helpful? Connect with us and share your thoughts and experiences, on social media @empulsepodcast, or through our website,

***Please rate us and leave us a review on iTunes! It helps us reach more people.***


Dr. Julia Magaña, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at UC Davis

Dr. Sarah Medeiros, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis


Dr. Wendy Lau, Emergency Medicine Physician, Wellness Expert and Yoga Instructor, with a background in Zen Buddhism.


Dr. Wendy Lau’s Website, including Physician Pandemic Support

Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot at Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rushton, Cynda. Moral Resilience: Transforming Meal Suffering in Healthcare. Oxford University Press, October 2018. 

Rushton, CH. Principled Moral Outrage: An Antidote to Moral Distress? AACN Advanced Critical Care 2013 Jan-Mar;24(1):82-9 

Turner K, Rushton CH. “Why Are We Doing This?” Creating New Narratives to Meet Futility With Integrity. AACN Adv Criti Care. Summer 2019;30(2):198-203

Rushton CH. Cultivating Moral Resilience. Am J Nurs. 2017 Feb;117(2 Suppl 1):S11-S15


Thank you to the UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine for supporting this podcast and to Orlando Magaña at OM Audio Productions for audio production services.

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