To keep a distance, that famous professional distance. At least I rarely meet the patients described in the manuscripts. Medical language is so dry and detached, there is no space for feelings.
This works most of the time. In research territory, patients are usually cases, subjects, probands, grouped into cohorts according to specific characteristics and so on. No need to even use the term human. I am not complaining.
But now and again, a case becomes a voice inside my head, my mind creates a person, I can see the hands gripping the wash basin, the shivering body inside the hospital gown, I am almost convinced I can feel the fear and now I have to watch out because before I know it, it becomes my own, my very own fear of death.
Sometimes, I do the sensible thing or at least I think it's sensible, the save and exit routine, what a blessing. Other times, I let the tsunami wash over me, gasping for air, bruised and shaken. I would make a terrible nurse.