Lifeguards are expected to prepare for the worst and equip themselves with the skills necessary to perform lifesaving procedures. Though lifeguards may not work in the same area, or have as much training as medical professionals, this is one example of how I helped prepare myself for a career in the medical field. It was not until I saved a little girl from drowning that I started to discover the similarities between these two jobs. That day I finally understood why there were so many training days, why it was crucial to be physically fit, and why someone should never underestimate the importance of keeping calm. These factors all helped me to perform at my best in a stressful situation, and to act quickly to help those in need, much like what a health care professional is expected to do. In this essay, I aim to further explain the steps I took to preparing myself to perform lifesaving techniques, and to give insight to those looking to do the same. Though medical school marks the beginning of our journey into our medical careers, the mental and physical training that is required for those careers can start early in life.
We have all heard the saying “Practice makes perfect.” And although there is no such thing as perfection, I have to agree that practice is the key to one’s success. Through repetition and exposure to new or rare medical cases, we have the ability to take what we learn and apply it to real life situations. One of the steps I took to gain a better grasp on some of the basic knowledge for helping someone in need was by becoming certified in first aid, CPR, and AED operation. For myself, the best part about these classes was that I was able to learn from my mistakes instead of accidentally harming a patient. Now because of practicing these skills, I feel more prepared for using them in my career.
There are also ways for someone to prepare for performing lifesaving techniques by looking for opportunities in their school. I recommend joining clubs that allow members to examine the human anatomy, attend suturing clinics, or tour a hospital. This is a great way to gain early exposure to the environment one may be working in when they are saving someone’s life, and it builds teamwork skills as they interact with their peer group. I also would advise others to job shadow or attend panels that feature medical professionals. This summer I was able to job shadow an ear, nose, and throat doctor multiple times. This experience has significantly impacted my idea of what working with patients is like, and it allowed me to work on my communication skills, which is especially important if you are trying to quickly communicate with someone in a life-threatening situation.
The first time I performed CPR my muscles ached and I was sweating, being that this is only one of the various techniques used to save someone’s life, I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice a healthy lifestyle. On any given day, a medical professional is subject to lifting heavy objects and being on their feet constantly. If we then take into account that they have to be quickly moving in life saving situations, it’s no wonder these professionals need a lot of energy and muscle to get them through the day. Being physically fit can also protect medical professionals and their patients from injuries. A way to approach becoming physically fit is to join a club, class, or job that requires you to work out and eat healthy. Relating back to my lifeguarding job, it required me to have the muscle ability and lung capacity to pull someone out of the water. Overall, I highly advise anyone, especially medical professionals, to practice working out and eating healthy for safety purposes, and to avoid burning themselves out during the work day.
Being mentally prepared to handle a lifesaving situation may be harder to train for than the physical preparation because there is no way to tell how one will react. However, there are ways to support your mental health during these times by keeping an open mind and maintaining control of your emotions. Patients can walk into the hospital stressed and afraid, but a doctor has to focus on the tasks at hand to prevent further harming the patient. I practiced this mentality by partaking in mission trips where we never knew what the trips would bring, but we relied our training and we kept an open mind throughout the day. On these mission trips, I also learned that support systems are a crucial part to maintaining emotional stability. By creating this support system at home and work, it gives doctors someone to confide in to help relieve some of the distress they might encounter.
When someone is faced with an emergency situation, they have to act quickly, remain calm, and rely on the training that they have received. However, being able to correctly react in this type of situation does not happen overnight, only with experience and time can this be done. By building these skills early in our life, we gain invaluable insight about ourselves and about what our mind and body need to perform at their very best. I firmly believe that the advice I have given will help people start to practice mentally and physically for these situations, so that they can become proficient in the skills necessary to perform lifesaving techniques. We may never know when or if we have to save someone’s life, but it is a great feeling when you give yourself the ability to do that and know that you can help those in need.