The improvement in a tiny lung’s ability to draw in air, the slow easing of tension in a mom’s face as a fever dwindles away. The proud eyes of a medical student who suddenly gets it. A parent’s eventual understanding of the nature of his child’s disease, and the willingness to fight harder to help prevent complications. The bloom of a smile on a face that, for days, has known only misery. A maternal sign of relief as the needle slides into a vein and a flash of bright red appears in the tubing. The release of a held breath as news comes back good.

There are times during residency when I’m not that busy — generally, when I’m not involved in the direct care of kids admitted to the hospital — that I lose touch with the parts of my job that make me happiest. Whenever I return to the inpatient wards, it takes a little while to grab onto them again. This past week, they all came within reach, and despite a few of the most busy days of my training, I took hold.