A patient of mine died.
A part of me keeps thinking I could have done more; followed up on calls sooner, tried harder to engage them. Then I remember I wasn’t the first counselor they had. I didn’t think I’d be the last.
The system makes it so difficult for patients to make lasting connections with clinicians: few clinicians + high caseload + low pay = burnout and increased turnover rate. This leads to job dissatisfaction, shitty performance, and a turnstile instead of a counselor’s chair.
Maybe they got tired of the rigmarole. Maybe they were sicker than anyone knew, themselves included.
Maybe I could “maybe” myself to ends of the earth and back and never get an answer. What I do know is that I can’t save anyone; contrary to popular belief, that’s not in my job description. I can’t save anyone as much as I may want to or try to. I’m finding that I sometimes work harder at my patients’ wellness than they do.
And that’s when I stop. That’s when I wake up and realize I’m using my reserves for others instead of myself. So as much as this patient needed treatment, no one could force it. I could have tried every trick in the book to help them; there would have been no guarantee they would have lived.
I wish things were different. I wish they saw – all my patients could see – what they have to offer this world.
But I can only save myself.