Living Breathing Medicine Podcast – Healing Trauma with Dr. Kristin Forner

Dr. Cecily Havert and Dr. Natasha Beauvais speak with Dr. Kristin Forner, a palliative medicine physician based in Southern Maryland. Dr. Forner started her job just two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. In this honest conversation, Dr. Forner shares her experiences dealing with the intense trauma of caring for patients during this time, the ways that trauma manifested in her body, and the work she’s done to heal both body and soul.

Episode Highlights:

  • 2:10 – Dr. Cecily Havert introduces Dr. Kristin Forner, the Palliative Care Program director at MedStar Southern Maryland hospital.
  • 2:46 – 8:17- Dr. Forner discusses her current role, how she got there, and the impact COVID had on her role.
  • 9:16 – 14:35 – The providers share experiences from the beginning of COVID, with science and information changing so rapidly, to coming home to their families after being in hospitals with COVID patients.
  • 15:05 – Dr. Havert quotes a line from Dr. Forner’s recent blog; “As a palliative care provider, I know that saving lives is not our job, we are called to cure when possible, to heal what can be healed when cure is not possible.”
  • 18:27 – 28:09 – The providers share stories about when COVID first hit, including how the pandemic lead to burnout, feeling “numb” due to the high volume of patients, and the daily struggle of finding the right words to say to patients.
  • 28:44 – 34:19 – The trauma of the COVID pandemic led to many healthcare providers and patients feeling stressed, anxious, and eventually leading to other illnesses. “The body keeps score.”
  • 36:29 – 39:00 – Dr. Forner discusses the “seasons” of COVID, from healthcare workers going from heroes, to being the reason why family members can’t visit each other in the hospital.
  • 39:20 – 42:56 – How do we, as healthcare providers, make ourselves better?
  • 44:33 – 54:24 – The providers discuss the impact of trauma, racial trauma, and intergenerational trauma.
  • 58:31 – Dr. Beauvais thanks Dr. Forner for joining the podcast and shares that Dr. Ken Zweig will appear on the next episode of Living Breathing Medicine Podcast.


Living Breathing Medicine is a podcast from Northern Virginia Family Practice. Find us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. You can also nominate health care providers for future interviews here.

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