I am currently a paramedic student at Idaho State University. My clinical and internship opportunities have helped me gain some insight as to what my future career in emergency medicine will be like. I am working hard toward my goals and I have learned that it is never too early to prepare for your future in medicine. I plan to continue my education and become an emergency room physician. My limited experience has opened my eyes to the need to prepare myself well if I want to last in this field. I have quickly realized that my preparation must begin now. If I miss this window of opportunity to begin my preparation early in my educational tract, I will not get a second chance. The study of medicine is a stressful field that requires providers to be mentally and physically tough, and I have found some successful methods in preparing myself for this profession.
First, the best way to be mentally prepared for this field and the presentation of a patient is to have a strong knowledge base. In stressful times, we often lose our ability to think and problem solve requiring us to fall back on our knowledge, training and practice in order to get through difficult situations and provide care to the patient. Thus, it is important to know the protocols and treatment plans for all potential cases you might encounter. One must constantly study and refresh their knowledge to be consistent and up to date on all treatment practices. What works for me is reviewing a couple topics each night before bed. I try very hard to ensure that I am understanding and retaining the information and not just reading it. This helps me feel confident that I actually know the information and that I have more than just a general idea of the topic.
Keeping up- to-date on all educational classes and taking continuing education courses helps with this as well. As part of my preparation, I have taken and will stay updated with BLS, ACLS, PALS, and PHTLS courses. These courses create a strong platform for use in critical situations to ensure that I provide the best, most up-to-date care to my future patients. It’s important to remain academically current on Basic Life Support courses to provide the appropriate level of care for patients. The effort you put into your academic studies now will pay big dividends when you are faced with the need to make critical decisions under pressure.
Another way to mentally prepare for this field is by developing strong personal relationships. There will no doubt be difficult cases and patients, and all providers will likely lose a few patients throughout their career. This is hard on anyone, no matter how many times they’ve gone through it. Keeping these feelings bottled up is not a healthy way to deal with them and will eventually lead to a breakdown or burnout. The best way to keep healthy mentally and work your way through these losses is to talk to someone you trust about these cases and your feelings. Often the agency or company you work for has counselors trained in this specific field and can help work through these emotions and allow one to return to work quickly. If this is not the case, a close friend or family member can help by talking it through with them and allowing one to get the emotional relief they need to continue practicing efficiently and healthy. Not dealing with grief or emotions will have a negative impact on the provider’s work, judgment, and quality of practice in the future.
Not only does one need to be prepared mentally but they also need to be prepared physically. Every job in the medical field puts strain on the body, and in my paramedic work this is especially true. There is constant lifting and moving patients, maneuvering of gurney’s, backboards, and stair-chairs, erratic sleep schedules, being out in all types of weather, and constant stress. The best way to prevent injury to the provider and having a negative impact on patients is to remain in good shape and to take care of one’s body. Getting good sleep every night, eating healthy and regularly, and working out are all good ways to help protect oneself. Not only does one need to take care of themselves ahead of time, but it is important to utilize proper lifting techniques and avoid overexerting oneself on scene. This will help protect the provider’s body and health.
The medical field, more specifically emergency medicine, presents a challenge mentally and physically, but it will also be rewarding. All the pain and struggle that comes with the career is outweighed by knowing your actions improved someone’s quality of live, or saved a life and allowed their friends and family to spend more time with their loved one. I couldn’t imagine working in a better field and being prepared mentally and physically has and will continue to help me succeed and I believe it will help others do so as well.