By Anne Reneslacis

Dr. Britni Williams ‘12 (biology) is currently working as an emergency medicine resident at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Ohio. When news of COVID-19 originally broke, Williams recognized the importance of activities that people should do daily, including washing hands, covering sneezes, and getting a flu shot.

Ever since she was young, Williams knew she wanted to be in the medical field. She loved the ER setting and the opportunity to see immediate benefits from helping people. “It’s self-satisfying for me, but I’m also able to help people and make them feel better, which is why I went into this field in the first place,” she said. After graduating from TCU, Williams began pediatric research at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth in addition to working as a scribe in the emergency department at THR Huguley in Burleson. Williams decided she wanted to work in emergency medicine after scribing.

“I have pretty good coping skills, but there is a resting level of anxiety that’s there all the time. We’re just waiting for the phone to ring, or hear from EMS, or for someone to come through the doors that is dying. The odds of them doing well because of the virus is so slim, and it’s just hard because you want to do everything you can to help the patient.”The hospital Williams works at is “in the calm before the storm.” The patient volume has been down recently, and it hasn’t been treating many minor complaints. Currently the hospital is treating mostly ill patients – unrelated to the coronavirus. The doctors are able to focus their time and attention on these patients while waiting on the inevitable.

“Being in the ER is spontaneous, and every day is unpredictable. The teamwork and family atmosphere in the hospital is real – I can’t get things done without the techs, medics, nurses, therapists, and secretaries. I’d be lost without those guys, being able to see how the team works is really rewarding.”

Most of Williams’ friends are in the medical field, and they have the habit of checking-in with one another. She also talks to her family in Texas regularly, letting them know that her hospital is fine so far. “I let them know if things are okay, or if they’re really bad, and for now it’s been okay. When all you see on the news is what’s going on in New York, their immediate thought is ‘oh my gosh, that’s what Britni’s in the middle of.’ We’re not quite there yet. We’re being safe and careful,” Williams said. She also mentioned how important communication is during this time, and that it’s important to keep people educated on how to stay safe.

Williams stressed how important it is for people to stay inside to prevent the spread of the virus. Even during pleasant weather, going out in large groups is counterproductive. The most important advice Williams shared was a caution about information sources. She warned against letting a favorite news channel influence what you are hearing. Williams stressed that the best information comes from doctors. She also clarified the difference between caution and panic in this situation. “Panic is completely counterproductive, and leads to more drama, anxiety, and probably even more spread of disease,” Williams said. “Take care of yourself, and take care of others.”

Williams is currently in her third year of residency, going into her final year. “I love it, and it’s going really well. It’s definitely an unexpected, long route but I’m glad it worked out the way it did. It taught me that I can adapt well which I didn’t think I could, and that I definitely chose the right specialty,” Williams said.