I had a conversation with my flatmate whilst on nights which went, in part, as follows:
"How was your night?"
"It was okay. One went to ICU. The one from ICU last night died after I started my shift."
"Oh no, that's terrible!"
"Yeah, sadly we couldn't fix him."
This gave me pause for thought - to me, it was just a casual conversation about work, but to my flatmate, it was really a big deal that someone had died. Which of course, made me wonder - have I stopped caring about the people I meet and look after?
When I first started freaking out about "being a doctor" in my final years of medical school, I was more worried that I would be too emotional and burn out caring about everyone. This was probably true right at the start, but wallowing in guilt whenever something bad happened and having existential crises whenever a patient died thankfully resolved itself in the first 6 months of work.
The reason that this man dying didn't make me go "oh, that's horrible" the day after I'd watched him go from "a guy with constipation" to "probably a perforation", was because there was nothing we could do to make him well again. Thus, the "best" outcome was that he was kept as pain-free and undistressed as possible at the end of his life. I honestly think I did the best that I could for this man in the set of fairly crap circumstances he was thrown - and because of this, I don't feel upset because he died. It was still sudden, and unexpected, and a crappy set of things for him to have happen - but I don't feel the need to mourn him or break down in tears because of it, because at the end of the day, we did the best we could with what we had.
So - I haven't had some big lightbulb moment or extreme revelation. I don't think I've stopped caring. Instead, I think that I've just gradually come around to appreciating the positives of being alive, the things that I can do, and the way that you can make a difference, even if you can't always change things to how you want them to be.