Brian Williams, MD, FACS
Associate Professor, Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Education: MD, University of South Florida College of Medicine; BS, aeronautical engineering, United States Air Force Academy
Company Name: University of Chicago Medicine
Company CEO: Thomas Jackiewicz
Company Headquarters Location: Chicago, Illinois
Anyone Can Make a Difference
After I delivered the news of her son’s death from multiple gunshot winds, I felt uneasy as the mother fell into my arms crying. Not because of her overwhelming public display of sorrow. I’d been there many times before. It was the disregard for social distancing during the era of COVID-19.
Ordinarily, I would not give it a second thought, because learning of the death of a loved one requires human touch to minimize the trauma. But I was concerned that I, dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment, might infect her—or vice versa. That singular moment encapsulated so much about what ignites my professional passion. It is about service.
As a military veteran, and now a frontline healthcare worker, my commitment to service infused my professional life. Choosing to pursue purpose over position motivates me to continue the work I do during the pandemic because COVID-19 has pulled back the curtain on many inequities that were hiding in plain sight.
Despite the challenges manifesting across so many sectors in society, I feel fortunate that I can play a positive role in helping our communities. I can do this not just as a doctor, but also as an expert commentator and advocate for social equity. COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity for us to radically reshape our society so that we all can be safe and healthy within our communities.
Although I am thankful for this recognition, I know I am only one of many who can serve as an agent of change. Even small acts of service can have a tremendous impact. Anyone can make a difference, and that person can be you.