I was hired by Adams County Regional Emergency Medical Services in February 2023. This is my first job in the medical field. Prior to this I worked in the restaurant industry. Very quickly after getting into the job it became clear to me that this was my calling. I am currently enrolled in the Paramedic course at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences.
When I first started working as an EMT, I felt the stress of not knowing what to expect in conjunction with my lack of experience. As each day passed, I began to feel more confident as I implemented what I learned in school and on the job. I believe that the best way to prepare for emergency medical care is to be informed, professionally trained and educated. I want to learn as much as I can from each patient experience. As an EMT I am usually assigned to BLS transport. I obtain as much information about each patient call to prepare myself prior to arriving for the call. The medical system I work in allows me to have access to the patient medical record. I review all my patient charts to learn how the presenting symptoms were addressed by the hospital medical team and what the patient outcome was. I also research the different diagnosis that I have encountered throughout my day. The more knowledge I have, the more prepared I am, the less stressed I feel.
All of my patient charts are reviewed, and I receive feedback on how I managed the patient and what I would have done differently. I am able to adjust my thought process and make better decisions moving forward. Feedback is another stress reducer for me.
Experience and exposure are essential. I request to work any available shifts with the ACLS team. This enables me to learn the skills that they utilize to assist patients in critical situations. It also allows me to be exposed to patient calls that I otherwise would not encounter. My mindset when I arrive at work is to manage whatever the day brings. I assess the patient and if the patients’ symptoms appear to be outside my current scope of practice, I call for the ALCS unit to assist. I talk to my patients, listen to them and offer support and encouragement which helps reduce their stress. I believe that knowing what types of behaviors to expect from diverse types of symptoms i.e., hypoxia, drug use etc., also helps me be better prepared for safe patient care. Being prepared helps reduce my stress.
Always working as a team helps lower the stress threshold. You can get a second opinion on each call. You share knowledge and experience. It also allows for discussion of each patient encounter which helps to minimize stress and expand your knowledge base. Just having the knowledge that you have that extra pair of hands and support helps to minimize stressful situations.
Working 24-hour shifts can be very stressful. There are some shifts that are uneventful and others that are non-stop. My partner and I must be open and honest with each other, determine who drives and who is in the cab with the patient. We always need to be at the top of our game. We need to be able to relax and get enough rest between calls. Staying hydrated, eating balanced meals and rest are essential. I am lucky to have learned various yoga and meditation techniques. When I feel the need I utilize meditation to help me regroup. In between calls I listen to music which helps relax me. Talking to my coworkers about stressful patient encounters helps to minimize my stress level.
First it is important to recognize stress. Everyone’s stress tolerance is different, and each person will have to develop their own relaxation method. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress. Anyone who joins the medical field and will be managing critical patient care decisions needs to be able to recognize in themselves when they are stressed. They will need to develop or utilize an existing stress minimizing technique. Weather it is visual imagery, music, meditation, humor, religion, journaling, or deep breathing. Think about stressful situations you have encountered in the past, evaluate what led to the stress and what helped you get through it. Take a few minutes every shift to evaluate your stress level. Step away for a few minutes and utilize your specific stress minimizing method. Make this a routine part of your working day. The less stressed and better prepared emotionally and physically you are the better health care provider you will be to your patients.