Emergency medical care from the perspective of a medical student can be only explained as hours of boredom complementing by 30 seconds to 60 minutes of sheer terror.
Medical Students will complete hours of didactic lecture. Hours of hands-on practice. Repeating both to the point of ad nauseam. Then they will start all over again. They will spend hours with preceptors perfecting their diagnostic skills and transferring their knowledge to their hands.
As a practitioner of 25 years. I have worked in the 911 field ,the transport world, the critical care field, and as an officer. My insight would be to continue the ad nauseam of hands-on practice and didactic lectures. You will need to train your body to use muscle memory because the things that you will hear, smell and see will make your mind stop working. I would strongly add in physical strength and endurance training. There is no aerobic workout in the world that comes close to carrying a 400 pound person in respiratory distress that you’re fighting to keep alive down a flight of stairs.
Make sure that you have an ongoing good rapport with a therapist or clergy of your choice for you will need them to continue in this field. Mental health is only now beginning to take hold in emergency services. The years of “suck it up”, “Crying is for the weak”, “if you cry you can’t hack this profession” are ending. There is nothing in the world that will prepare you for the horrors you will see in this profession. There is nothing anyone can teach you to make it ok to have a child beaten to death by a drug addicted parent. There is nothing to be taught about how to cope with adult children placing a parent in an upstairs back bedroom. Doing the bare minimum of care so that they can live off of the pension that would stop coming if the parent died. There is also no reason why a perfectly healthy baby should die in its sleep.
There will be times when you leave the station and sit in your car and cry or vomit. There will be times where you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with stomach cramps. There will be times when you get a sniff of something that turns your stomach for years to come. There will be favorite foods that you will never eat again in life.
Do not misunderstand this essay. I do not hate Emergency Medical Services. I have lived this for 25 years and my plan is to continue until the day I can no longer step on the truck. My goal is to teach the new coming into Emergency Medical Services the finer points of the field. Didactics will teach them how to pronounce someone dead. It will not teach them how to hold the hand of a widow or widower whose world you just destroyed because you couldn’t bring their loved one back
I feel that is what Emergency medical providers will be able to hold on to going forward in this career. The things that aren’t taught during a lecture or skills section. We often forget the fast pace of emergency medical services to be human. To hold that hand. To wipe the tears. To offer a cup of coffee or tea. To get a pillow for a widow who just watched the love of her life die in front of her and only wants to lay with him a second more.
Those are the things I believe can only be taught in the field. Those of the things that make us amazing at what we do. As a very skilled instructor once said a non english speaking janitor can tell if you’re having a STEMI. Treating the aftermath is what Emergency Medical Services is amazing at doing.
We are the ones that see everyone at their worst. We see people. Real People. After the makeup is cried away. The perfect clothes are destroyed. We see what is left. The person.