There were two blog posts last week that really made me think about where EMS is as an industry and where we need to be.
The first blog post came from Chris Kaiser titled Two Cases, One Letter – From One Paramedic’s Struggle Change Can Come. To summarize the post, it was about a letter from an anonymous Paramedic who had two cases that left him concerned about the priorities of his organization. The first case had to deal with the transfer of a patient with MRSA to a birthing unit, where he did what the facility had called for and did not speak up about the potential contamination of the birthing unit, he was not reprimanded for this failure to identify and prevent a potentially dangerous situation. The second case had to do with a terminal patient being transported for a direct admission and their condition in the paramedic’s assessment warranted them going to the emergency room instead, against the family’s will but in accordance with treatment protocol, which ended in the paramedic being reprimanded for this decision. I left a comment on the original post regarding my thoughts on both cases. This blog post shows us where we are.
The second blog post was Steve Whitehead’s post titled Passion Counts. To summarize the post, Steve points out that to be successful as an EMT or Paramedic you need to have a passion for medicine. I didn’t leave a comment on the post, but instead my opinion will undoubtedly come out in this post. This blog post also shows us where we are, but puts us on the path where we need to be.
Where Do We Need To Be?
Don’t treat your patients, care for them.
I first heard that phrase over a decade ago from a grizzled EMT that most people considered out of touch with what was going on back then. It really resonated with me for quite a few reasons that first time, mainly because I realized that he wasn’t the one out of touch with reality… rather I had been. It reminds me of where we truly need to be as an industry.
One of the things we need to stop doing is complaining about the other healthcare professions and the public lacking respect for our profession. We are providers of a service and as such we can’t expect accolades for providing the service we are supposed to. Really take a moment and think about it. How many of you have taken the time to write a letter or even provide a compliment about a cashier at McDonald’s when they provide you with the correct order? Probably not very many, if any. How likely are you to complain when the order is wrong or not to your liking? Chances are quite a few of you would, if not all. We as a society are not very complimentary to our service providers, which is exactly my point. We need to stop worrying and complaining about these broad perceived injustices and focus on the opinions of those that truly matter… the patient.
When it comes to focusing on the patient, we need to stop thinking of medicine as one solution fits all. There is an absolute need for you to have a strong clinical base of knowledge and understanding. Its true that over time we have slowly moved towards more evidence based medicine influencing our clinical protocols, that does not exclude the unique conditions of patients in both physiology but also emotionally and personally.
We need to be able to listen and understand their wants as opposed to what our protocols dictate their needs are. The true art of medicine is in blending the two together for the best possible outcome. This is the difference between just treating your patient (protocols) and actually caring for them. Yes, you need to be passionate in this job, but you need to be passionate about actually caring for your patient. If we were able to get past being stuck on treating the patient and instead began caring for them, then the respect from the public and other healthcare professionals would come in time.
So make the conscious decision to start passionately caring for your patients as opposed to just treating them.