Originally published in In-Training Magazine March 20, 2017.
“Please not me,” I pray earnestly. Not me. Not me. I don’t want to become the medical student-turned-resident-turned-physician who loses empathy. The one who loses compassion. The one who takes lives and near death experiences for granted, who quickly learns, as an ER attending once bluntly stated, that “everyone’s a liar.” Not me.
I entered the medical profession to care for people, for real people with complex medical and superimposed social issues. I entered this profession to help, to be a beacon of hope, to listen to those who feel they’ve been shrieking into a dank, dark, unresponsive abyss.
Please not me. I don’t want to lose my heart but, just as equally, I don’t want to lose my sanity. Is it possible to remain committed to the profession, to remain passionate and compassionate? At times, why do those around me, my professional idols, demonstrate otherwise? Am I naive for believing I should care? That I can continue caring this passionately?
Not me. Naive or not, I am on a mission to ensure that this will not be me. I am committed to dedicating my life to both reflection and self-care to combat the staged attack on my empathy. I believe it doesn’t have to be. The sheer optimist in me is committed to making a deliberate and conscious effort against it. This will not be me.