When Enough is Enough

Dear Inadequate Graduate,

I’ve really been enjoying my work with patients, but noticed that many of them are declining throughout the holiday season. It breaks my heart to see so many people struggling to have their basic needs met, and a few in particular feel incredibly isolated from loved ones. I do the best I can to listen attentively and connect them with social supports in the area, but I never feel like it’s enough. I wish I could do more like give them money or food or even a ride somewhere, but I know this would be overstepping boundaries. On top of everything, the holidays are hard for me, too, and what is usually fulfilling work has left me feeling pretty sad and guilty most days. I feel like there is only so much that I have to give, but how do you know when what you’re doing is enough?

-HolidayBlues

Dear HolidayBlues,

This time of year is difficult for many people as the holidays can stir up feelings of loss and anniversary dates, or highlights disparities across socioeconomic and familial lines. Thus, it is natural that you’re feeling blue. Not only are you taking in many of your patients’ struggles but it sounds like you have your own personal issues to attend to, all of which can feel overwhelming individually!

The hard truth is that as providers, we can only do so much to help our patients, but what we do should not be underestimated. If you are giving your patients your best, that is all you can ask and is probably more than they receive from others. We can always do more, but the temptation of side stepping boundaries when we feel that we are not dong ‘enough’ puts you at risk of not only complicating the relationship, but also creating a compromising position – emotionally and/or professionally.

Many times our patients have such great voids that we cannot possibly be everything they need us to be, but we can make a difference in the little time we are allowed. I encourage you to trust that whatever small gesture you can extend to your patients probably means more than you imagine. My hope for you this holiday season is that you start to believe that whatever you do,

You. Are. Enough.

 

Signed,

The Inadequate Graduate

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