Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Freedom to be New

I am still a new medic. I got my license in January 2009, and was cleared to run by myself sometime in the April region. I then moved multiple times, and have not been practicing since September. I have been an EMT for almost 6 years now
However, many in EMS keep mistaking me for "experienced". I know I have some nursing experience under my belt, including my years as an ER/Trauma nurse in a large level 1 trauma center/inner city ER.
But here's my problem with this: I am NOT an experienced Medic. Things that make me a good ER nurse do not make me a good Medic. I have always been of the opinion that in-hospital and out-of-hospital care are two separate things. Similar, yes; even over-lapping in their fields: but 2 different worlds. It takes a different mind-set, different set of skills for me to operate in the field. This mindset helped me do well in Medic school, by setting aside my experience as a nurse and focusing only on what I had done as an EMT/and what I was learning.
So, here's my problem: people in EMS keep calling me "experienced", giving me preference on calls, even sending me out by myself into difficult situations "cause you can handle it".
I have nursing experience, I'm not the most experienced, but I do have some experience and feel fairly confident in my skill set. But I'm not an experienced medic. I haven't yet done a field tube (wasn't required in my program, I've done tubes in the OR, but not in the field). I haven't even run a wreck requiring extrication (once again, been in EMS for 6 years, and all my patients have self-extricated! Weird I know). I have also never run a code in the field (again, been in EMS for 6 years and my white cloud has prevented me being there for one!). I have run many, many codes in the hospital. I have also run ALS mega-codes until I could do them in my dreams (literally). But I have never run the actual chaos of a code in the field.
I would love to have the experience of watching an experienced medic run a code in the field. I would love the opportunity to drop a tube with an experienced medic peering over my shoulder to help me. But I'm not being given these opportunities. I'm sent out by myself, expected to function at a high level.
I'm getting ready to start at a new squad, and I'm already facing this conundrum. Already they're talking about a shortened preceptorship "since you know what you're doing". I don't want it shortened, I want help. I guess I want the pressure off, I want to be able to be "the new guy on the block". I want the freedom to mess up, to be told that I'll do better as time goes on. I want the freedom to have someone show up to back me up (volunteer system) since I'm still new.
Any thoughts? Hints? My nursing experience does help me a little (cyanosis is still cyanosis, in-hospital or out-of-hospital), but not much. I'm still a new medic and want to be considered that way.


annecath said...

I think I know how you feel. I've been in ems for almost 5 years now, first as a trainee and then as a qualified paramedic, and nothing ever happens on my shifts. In fact, I am thinking of joining the army or red cross or something and work in areas of war and conflict. All I have to do to make world peace, is show up for work! But I think that you (and me) have to trust yourself that when the day comes, you will know what to do, more or less, anyway. You sort of have to "fake it till you make it". And all the non-dramatic calls will somehow prepare you for the big one, because you'll be in control of the important basics, the ABC. And it also helps to think that the rest of the ems world don't really have all that many dramatic calls, they just tell the stories so often, that you think that's all they do. Did that make any sense at all?

Anonymous said...

In the early 70s' my mom stoped to help a left turn motorcycle victum at the corner of pentz and skyway in Paradise, Ca.
We were on our way to a swimming hole and it was abrubtly interupted by said accident.
My mom used our shirts, the branches we collected to splint bones and a calm that made me shiver.
The guy lived and the family became ours.
When I asked her how she knew what to do; She simply stated that she had to do something.

I have learned a lot since then, the most important is to trust what you know and apply it without reservation. Your mistakes will be obvious but your succeses will be brilliant. Not to be cliche, but better to be wrong and do something than to be seditary and watch the wrong happen.