I’ve been told before, “You’d be a better doctor if you weren’t so emotional about life.” I don’t consider myself a superbly emotional person in public, but yes, I am touched by stories. If you scan through this blog you will see that stories of compassion or triumph are dear to me.
I’ve always believed that as long as it does not affect the way I treat a patient, it will be okay.
But maybe not.
If I am touched by the mother who brings her teenage rheumatological daughter pink milk and a favourite blanket to hospital, then I am also affected by the injectable drug-user who shouts at me for drawing blood “incorrectly and from the wrong vein”. Or the patient who tells me to “hamba” (leave) when she sees me entering the room with a drip-set.
And if I am happy because of a compliment given (probably without second thought), then I will easily be saddened when the same doctor is rude because of something I presumably did wrong. Or the nurse who is in a bad mood and tells me I will “just have to do without a blood culture bottle.”
I begin to understand why doctors are disillusioned about their jobs. I begin to see why they choose to change careers. I begin to see why they feel unfulfilled.
Sometimes, “helping people” just isn’t enough. When other healthcare workers are rude, and when patients are moody, and your employer (in this case the State) does not look out for you, and working conditions are terrible… it’s difficult to remain positive.
I’m not even qualified yet, and I feel like this already. I used to promise myself I wouldn’t become dulled to this work, that I wouldn’t become one of those sad, dissatisfied doctors.
But I don’t know if that’s possible anymore.