Friday, January 21, 2011

Sounds like the future

Reposted from a MedKids Journal - http://boards.medscape.com/forums?128@559.f7mYawOqGzD@.2a063f93!comment=1

I Am Only Human After All

Kendra Campbell, MD, Psychiatry/Mental Health, 12:41AM Jan 14, 2011

"We are human, after all. Flesh Uncovered, after all.
We are human, after all. Much in Common, after all.”

-Daft Punk

It's 1:00 a.m. I just got home from an 18-hour shift at the hospital. I should really be sleeping, not typing. But I need to put in my weekly post here at the Ink Blot. And I don’t know when I’ll ever get the time to write again.

I remember when I was a pre-med student and even a med student...looking around at some of the doctors and wondering how they could sometimes be so short with their patients. I saw docs who didn’t really seem to care much for anyone, especially their patients. And I wondered how they could be in medicine and have such little empathy.

And now I truly realize why, maybe for the first time in my life.

As I’ve said before, there is an inverse correlation between the hours worked and the level of empathy towards patients. And not only empathy, but compassion as well.

I started the day at full speed, diligently caring for my patients. I comforted a patient in excruciating pain. I took the time to talk extensively with my patient’s mother. I went the extra mile.

But after around 15 hours into my shift, my empathy and compassion started fading. I began viewing patients not as humans who needed my help, but rather as obstacles in my path towards gaining sustenance, rest, and sleep.

Why did my patient have to go into respiratory distress and require intubation? Didn’t he know how fatigued I was? Why couldn’t he have waited until I left the hospital to become such a time sink?

Why did my demented patient have to keep ripping out her IV lines and foley catheter? Didn’t she know how much I wanted to see my bed?

I feel like I’m really starting to understand the dark side of medicine. I now comprehend The House of God with a whole new appreciation.

I want to care. I want to have empathy. I want to have compassion.

I know it’s within me. I know I want to be the best doctor I can be to each and every one of my patients.

But the reality...the truth...

Is that I can not.

I simply do not have that innumerable capacity.

I am only human, after all.

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