Whitecoats-The Mute Sufferers

There are so many terms that describe what health professionals take into ourselves— burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma are notable terms that only hint at the psychological impact of what we do.

I described some of the sadness that I experienced when working with a family with Batten Disease here. Sometimes we are involved in the worst conversations in any family’s lifetime. We do it, write our professional notes about it and go home, often emotionally drained.

Patients do not need to hear these from their clinical staff. They need to be reassured that we are indestructible. Yes, we should be suffering mutely with them. It is our skills and our compassion, but not our feelings that they need.

However, as clinicians, we have to be aware of our own and our colleagues' internal states. I sought out and underwent three periods of counseling due to work. I needed it. I would say that many front line staff need it as well.