Nancy Astor, an American-born British politician, once said,” Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.” I believe this rings true for most if not all healthcare workers. When making the decision to become a front-line, healthcare worker, I felt the daunting task to be heavy yet exciting. I clearly remember my first basic life support (BLS) class as a brand-new basic emergency medical technician (EMT) attending a local community college. I felt excitement for the new knowledge that I could possibly use to save another life. As students, we were instructed how to assess a patient for the need of life saving measures. We were also taught the proper technique for compression on adults and children as well as proper compression rate and depth. I would later go on to receive my advanced EMT certification and ultimately becoming a licensed paramedic.
As a paramedic, I have served my community and worked hand in hand to teach new students the same skills that I learned in school as well as some that I learned from experience. Emergency medical services (EMS), when compared to other medical fields, is still in its infancy. We are still learning how adapt and change to new information as it becomes accessible. Medicine is a dynamic field that requires an ever-changing area of expertise. Some practices that were used just five to ten years ago may no longer be relevant due to new information and technology. As healthcare providers we must strive to further our education in an effort to better serve and treat our patients. I also function as a field training officer for my current employer. I am tasked with helping train new paramedics and EMTs that are not just recent additions to our roster, but are also often new to EMS. I have always started every training session withexplaining how stressful the job can be in addition to asking how the new employee intends to deal with those stressors.
I tell all my students to invest in themselves. How you treat yourself is how you will treat others. As a healthcare worker we are tasked with taking care of people on their worst days. We must be prepared mentally to listen to our patients who are having thoughts of self-harm. We must be prepared physically to pick up a patient from the floor of their house, a ditch where they may have wrecked their car, or perform CPR for extended periods of time. We must also be prepared emotionally when after our long shift, and all our efforts, our patients still are unable to make it home to friends and loved ones. Healthcare workers throughout the COVID pandemic were often faced with critical staffing shortages which were compounded by an increased patient load. Every morning healthcare workers would wake and decide if they were ready and mentally fit to start the day and expose themselves to a virus that was often fatal and continues to be a global issue today. A healthcare worker’s heart must show compassion, empathy, and selflessness for their patients as well as for themself.
As a Paramedic, I have found several ways that I invest in myself which empowers me to deal with the daily stressors that are part of working in such a fast paced and demanding field. I enjoy a calm simple life and gardening. The same hands that will perform critical life-saving procedures will also plant seeds that will grow into something beautiful. I also find great peace in the gym. Working to strengthen my body also strengthens my mind which helps to shield my mental health. One of the leading career-ending injuries for healthcare workers are back injuries. By taking care of my body, it allows me to better perform my job and ensures I am the best I can physically be for my patients who depend on me. My advice for new individuals entering into the medical field is simple, be excited! Expect moments of great happiness and joy in addition tomoments of profound sadness. I implore those in this field to look for the silver lining. With every sadness there is light and truth.
Medicine is an ever-changing field of study. there will always be opportunities for advancement and personal growth. It is never dull. New discoveries are made every day. The medical field is vast and has room for all walks of life regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or political view. Diversity is essential when working to serve your neighbor or when assisting a stranger. The ACLS Scholarship for Health Care Providers allows readers a first-hand look into what it is to be a part of this wonderful and fulfilling professional community. This essay has allowed me to express my thoughts which I hope resonate with others in this field. To be a health care worker is to be a selfless individual that is ready to learn, professionally grow, and to serve in the greatest possible capacity.