Kearstin Ruddick - empathy & perseverance in essays

Submitted 2022-02-04

Leading up to my acceptance into the nursing program in 2020, I worked full time as a nationally registered paramedic on an ambulance, prior to that I had worked as an emergency medical technician and a certified nursing assistant. I have now had my paramedic license for 3 years and work in a local emergency department. My time in the emergency services has allowed me to utilize basic and advanced life support on multiple occasions. Having the opportunity to work with the public in what could have been their worst days, has really taught me a lot in the last 5 years. When I got into emergency medicine, I was just a teenager. I got my emergency medical technician license at 18 years old and then my paramedic when I was 21 years old. I used life-saving skills way before I could even take a drink of alcohol. Working in that field matured me in ways that I never saw coming. My mental and physical strength today compared to what it was just out of high school is astronomical. Within my first 6 months as a paramedic, I had already saved a woman’s life, with the help of 3 men whom I still speak with to this day. Within my first 6 months, I had already seen a child die.

When first taking Advanced Cardiac Life Support back in paramedic school, they taught us what to do when things went south, when you arrive at what is someone’s or multiple people’s worst day. They taught us to intubate, to place intravenous lines, and the proper medications and doses necessary to do the job that we had all thrived to do for so long. What they do not teach you, is the mental aspect of it. They do not teach you what to say to a parent when their only child dies, or to a 95-year-old woman who just watched us performing potential lifesaving skills on her spouse of 70 years but to no avail. I strive to be the best that I can be, no matter what task I am doing at the time. That is why I try to be a mentor to new paramedics because I know what is about to happen when we walk into that room. It takes a great deal of mental effort to deal with situations, like the ones I stated above. These two scenarios I spoke about, happened to me personally and nobody taught me how to deal with things like that before I got into this.

My advice to my peers in the nursing program or to the new EMTs and paramedics stepping into the playing field is to learn how to sit with it and feel the hurt of others but do not let it tear you down. I always tell my predecessors that it’s okay to have emotion in this job if you do not let it consume you. I try to give them resources to good therapists in the area, speak to them about their current coping and sleeping habits, and give them an ear to talk to if they want to. I offer to help with additional high simulation training and always try to give them resources to help them in the time that they need it. Most monitors that look at your heart rate and rhythm have a built-in metronome system that I have found is helpful in keeping you on track and focused in high-stress situations like the ones described. Being prepared and properly trained with the best equipment possible is the best thing that any of us could do. Continuous education is a huge factor in my life. I am, painfully, aware of what this job does to people, but I am also aware of what it can give to you.

I gained a wonderful friend the day that I saved that woman’s life, she is still doing wonderful. My biggest hope is that all the people who currently work in healthcare and are still yet to come, train to be the best they can be and understand that the world of medicine evolves more and more every day, so we should too. I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve the members of my community. I am also thankful for scholarships such as the ACLS Scholarship for Health Care providers because, after the year we healthcare providers have had, it gives much-needed support and further gives the opportunity to possibly go back to school.