When I was in school, the focus was on pass clinicals, get good grades. Period. So for some reason I do remember some things about my patients from clinicals, but I couldn't tell you their names and they don't produce much of an emotional reaction for me now. (I graduated in 2005.) My very first bed bath patient had rheumatoid arthritis, now I find that to be interesting as it seems to be chewing on my joints now, and I am glad I treated him with respect and did a good job. I didn't have a lot of "room" for getting attached to the patients while I was in school, really I was too anxious about not messing up and flunking out.
So as a new nurse, things kinda hit hard. I remember my first code, my first deaths, the first time I had an "aha" moment with an end stage COPD'er and realized he was having an MI, like right there, right then. (And he was. And he died very soon thereafter.) I didn't want to forget their names. I had the urge to treasure the things they taught me and especially for the deceased ones, to allow them to live on. Problem is, of course that I'm human and I have this life, and it really doesn't have room for me to mourn extensively for everyone I meet who's elderly and sick. That's a LOT of people.
Stress brought me shingles, recurrent, took six months to get it under control, several back injuries were not helped by stress at all, high blood pressure (mediated by my lipid profile and genetics), kidney stones, and now some form of inflammatory arthritis. I am actively the last two years making strides, finally, in leaving people at work. I try to treat them well, but I can not possibly remember them all and I can not carry them all around with me. I'll allow maybe one a year, I'm thinking, to stay with me awhile. And there will be people who teach me things; I can remember what is learned but everyone needs sanctuary, especially the nurses. We just have to keep telling ourselves that, and practice compartmentalization, and take care of ourselves, if we want to live good lives. Work is not life.