As internship was about to start, I was writing about how medical school had changed me; now internship is 25% done and I'm watching myself change in new ways. Back then I wrote wondering about whether I should aspire to having some kind of secular-spiritual version of love for all my patients. Now I feel like that's beside the point. One of my friends wrote back then that love like that might or might not be a good thing, but either way it's exhausting, and a different job than the one I already have to do.
She was right, as it turns out. The other day I was at work and was thinking, maybe there is still something to be said for the idea that I should love all my patients, but whether or not I should, I just can't, and don't. One of my co-interns says that in some way the definition of professionalism is acting like you care about people that you don't necessarily care about. That might be a little harsh--there is still something about human decency and compassion that I'd like to think exceeds simple professionalism. But right now, it's too much work to love everyone and also get all their discharge paperwork done and lab tests ordered; human decency has to be enough.
I do love some of my patients because they are sweet, or thoughtful, or charismatic in some way. And some of them are so totally insufferable as to become comic and therefore lovable in their own way.
But these days, what moves me through the day is not love. It's something much simpler: I move through the day because I need to get to the end of the day.