Rush Not to Judgment
Now that summer classes, like anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, are all over, the fall semester brings an entirely new set of subjects. One class in particular has me thinking about a lot of heavy issues. The class involves studying problems that are prevalent in the communities surrounding us. Each week, we have a different PA-C guest speaker come in and talk to us about a different striking issue.
Our first lecture detailed the ongoing prevalence of child abuse in our country and how we will not only encounter cases if we work with children, but how we'll learn to identify or deal with the situation in a professional manner. Needless to say, the lecture was informative, but for me-and the majority of my class, I'm sure-a little disturbing. However, it wasn't just the pictures we were shown that disturbed me. The scariest part was feeling my own internal reaction to what I was seeing and hearing. Not only could I not physically or emotionally understand how someone could do those things to their child, but I was appalled at how so many cases could go unnoticed, unresolved or ignored. The only emotions I could find at that instant were those of hatred for the inflictors (mostly parents) of abuse, sympathy for the children whose lives will be forever changed, and gratitude for my own upbringing. The lecturer explained to us that it took him a long time in his line of work to get to the point where he doesn't go right to that place of disgust for the parents. He now understands that there are explanations for why this still occurs. Whether the abusers were the product of a similar environment, they lack education, or they simply don't know another way to deal with the stress of raising a child, his point was not to justify the behavior, but to help explain it. I am sure we will have lectures to come on other controversial things like drug abuse or domestic violence, but I can already see myself feeling the same frustration.
My question is, in a profession in which we are expected to be confident, even-tempered, unbiased, trustworthy, and, to some, all-knowing, how do we get to the point he has reached? How do we restrain ourselves from displaying the emotions that are only human for us to feel? How do we adjust or temper our reaction appropriately to these things we are going to encounter and not let our biases or prejudices infect our encounters?
I know that although many professionals in this field learn to become truly detached, there are a lot of us who will still feel these things on the inside. Is being detached better? Or is it better to hope that with time, it's not that I will become completely desensitized, but instead will learn to harness my energy into finding the resources to do something about issues like this, rather than being enveloped in those negative emotions?