My COVID Experience, a True Learning Experience

Author: Derek Ratliff
Submitted by: Kerensa Peterson

My name is Derek Ratliff, and I am an SP (and Event Assistant) at Emory University School of Medicine. I have been at Emory for nearly three years. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life! For some reason, I have always been drawn to the medical field. I remember fondly as a child that I wanted to be a doctor, which I know for children, that is probably one of the first things they say when asked the proverbial question “what do you want to be when you grow up.” However, when I got to college (UNC-Chapel Hill – GO HEELS!!!), I decided to become a pharmacist instead. I suppose I thought the challenges of being a doctor were just too great. But then I realized that being a pharmacist was not what I wanted to be either. So, I changed my major to music education midway through college.

After graduating from UNC and coming to Atlanta to teach band and orchestra, I eventually gravitated away from teaching. And many years after that, I decided to become a medical transcriptionist, once again bringing me back towards the medical field. I worked in that capacity for over 15 years, mostly at home. Towards the end of my time working as a medical (and nonmedical) transcriptionist, I became employed with Emory, bringing me back into the medical field. So, that is a bit of my background.

Now, as far as COVID affecting my job, well, it actually hasn’t. Not really. As a matter of fact, I have never been busier! I am thrilled that Emory has moved to an online platform. It has been extremely rewarding to continue in this fashion. And I am very used to working from home from my days as a transcriptionist. Do I miss the actual face-to-face interaction with my peers and the medical students (the learners)? Absolutely! But I also feel that Zoom meetings and online classes and yes, virtual doctors’ appointments, are definitely going to be a huge part of our future. (As an actor, I am even doing a play on Zoom!). So, for me, this is very exciting!

Personally, and this may sound strange, I have thoroughly enjoyed my “lockdown” experience. It has been a true learning experience for me. I feel this has been the perfect time to relax a little more, meditate, and focus on what I truly want out of life. This time in isolation has also afforded me the opportunity to be more creative. I have been writing more and practicing my trumpet (I have been playing trumpet since 1979!). And I know it sounds very cliché, but it is true:  this has been one of the most reflective moments of my entire life, and I am 53 years young! And truthfully, not having to dress up for work or get in traffic has been so calming and relaxing! This is one of the main reasons why I gravitated towards transcription NO TRAFFIC!

Also, I think this is the perfect time for ALL of us to look within to see what it is we want, who we REALLY are, and where we are going.  I look at this as a cosmic timeout where we needed to “take stock” of our lives, if you will.

So overall, this experience has been very gratifying for me. I know this isn’t how others feel, but I count my blessings that I still have a job, because most people don’t. I am financially okay. And though I do miss my activities and seeing my friends and coworkers, I also know that this isn’t going to be forever. And I also know that for me, I will be stronger coming out of this.

And P.S. I wear my Tarheels mask whenever I go out.

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