When We Simply Stop Caring.

I see it all around me.

Burnout. To be burnt.

When we simply stop caring.

Most of the time we don’t even need
to say anything.
But you know.
You hear it in our voice.
You see it in our eyes.
And you feel it too.
You know what
is going through our
mind with each wayward glance.

Is this what I signed up for?
Is this all this profession has to offer? 

Because I have seen the articles.
To prevent physician burnout.
The A-B-C’s.
Changes we must make.
Limiting expectations. 
Decreased hours. 
Putting us first.

I too used to be desperate.

What is happening to me?
What is happening to my colleagues?

What is happening to medicine?

But then one day, I saw you.


Not you the patient.
You the person.
You’re just
a person.
You are me.
And you are hurting.
And maybe I am too, although
you may never know.

So I thank you for being here.

Not only do I want you to know that
I honor the privilege of being able to
help you, but you should know that
you have in your own way
taken care of me.

And I do care for you.

◊ A Physician’s Plea ◊

23 replies »

  1. I love your poem and I feel that as patients, we can often be clueless about the fact that often our doctors are experiencing burnout! I have a feeling that sometimes my Internist might be. She is a fabulous doctor, but sometimes I feel more rushed than I know I should feel.

    On the other hand, my Urologist is a complete Angel! Even the staff at hospitals and other patients I have met of his, EVERYONE that meets him adores him. I have a congenital condition (medullary sponge kidneys, where I have 100s of stones all day every day and they aren’t going to go away), yesterday was my normal exam and the timing couldn’t have been better because I was having some “stone action” My doctor shows me respect that I KNOW my condition because I have been living with it for 20 yrs now (I had it since I was born but it didn’t flare up til I was 40)….and he is ALWAYS, ALWAYS sympathetic and caring. I adore him. He almost makes me wish I would have a flare up (almost!!) because then I get to see him lol!!!! catchatwithcarenandcody

    • WOW! It makes me so happy to hear this! I am comforted to hear that you feel well taken care of, and I believe that your physician also treasures this rapport he has with you. He sounds like a wonderful person and caregiver. It always warms my heart to hear about people having such good relationships with their physicians. 🙂 🙂

  2. I love your honesty with aspects that “lesser mortals” would hide. Knowing that there is another human with feelings next to me (or facing me) is so comforting. I have had the same GP for over 30 yrs now and so we know each other quite well and it is so nice to hear him express emotions, aspirations and frustrations that I have also felt. I wonder where the all to common impersonal side of a dialogue came from?

    • I don’t know…maybe somehow physicians got the idea that we need to maintain the appearance of stoic life savers in front of our patients? That if we show our human side that patients might respect us less? Or…may it’s a defense mechanism…and just reflects our internal ‘distancing’? Because if we expose ourselves to our patients then we lose our objectivity, and we open ourselves to also be hurt? I don’t know… :-/

      I’m glad to hear about you and your GP. It sounds like you two have a good rapport, and I know that from his side, he no doubt appreciates that you have been coming to him for that long. It is always a special thing…to ‘grow old’ with your patients! 😉

      • Hi Phoebe – Sadly, he is having a difficult time at the moment because a number of his patients are simply dying of old age… and there is nothing that he can do about it. You can no doubt relate.

        • Oh no. 🙁 Yes, this is very difficult for physicians. And for doctors who really care, which I have no doubt he is one of them…it really is heartbreaking to see this, and to know that there is nothing you can do… 🙁

  3. Its about slowing the space around you down in that moment…..taken full stock in that moment…. because moments matter… through out the busy day ….no matter how hectic…. breathe in life…your own and others….appreciate the presence of them and yourself in that moment… and yes don’t forget the cat’s presence …never… 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  4. Empathy…… works both ways…….and burn-out happens to everyone; it’s recognizing it as it sneaks up on you and making some little “corrections” in your life that help! So do hugs….

    Hugs, Pam

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