Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

What happened to caring?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 26 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6485
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

I stubbed out my cigarette and fell into sleep, and into my recurring dream of drowning. Sweating, I jerked awake, my pager bleeping, its wicked green numbers flashing the number of the ward I had just left. I bleeped.

The unspoken intention of residency was to systematically break you—a compassionless humiliation to eradicate any foolish arrogance of youth, to ingrain emotional detachment, to aspire for nothing more than just to sink or swim. It was hard to “care” in this professional darkness. I clung to caring; lived by the junior …

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