Thursday, July 24, 2008

New York Times

Excellent article about patients dying and how we rush around, not allowing ourselves to react. Sorry about all the death talk, but I'm sure you can understand why this is on my mind. Although, as my fellow psych intern said yesterday, why didn't everyone get upset when my patient died? It's normal to be upset, normal to cry, so why do we push it down so much? I'm so glad she's on the service with me--it would be a lot worse if I had no one there who knows exactly what it's like to be a 3-week intern on a busy neurology service where everyone else has had at least 1 year of medicine.

1 comment:

Midwife with a Knife said...

As residents, we typically just don't have the time or space to really allow ourselves to mourn the passings of patients. On one hand, I think that that's too bad, on the other hand, I think it's also a part of medical training.

The truth is, if I allow myself to really get upset about each bad outcome, it could interfere with my ability to take care of the next emergency which could only be 5 minutes or 30 seconds away.

Also, something I learned as a resident on gynecologic oncology, it's important to remember that the patients who die aren't MY family. That although my life may have been enriched by knowing them, it won't be any different from before now that they're gone (as opposed to their families' lives which will never be the same again). And although its still sad that that person died, this sort of puts it in a different context.

For all of these reasons, its important to sometimes be able to compartmentlize your grief or your sadness until you have time to reflect on it or deal with it. And I think that learning how to do this is a part of medical training, although you'll never see "Emotional adjustment to death or bad outcome" on your list of educational objectives for residency.

And yeah, it is normal to be upset, normal to cry. But these are the reasons we push it down so much.