The Importance of Being Fat

No, this is not an article in favor of bringing back the Super Size to McDonald’s.  What I am talking about is creating a strong base for an EMS organization.

What does it mean for someone to grow within their career?  In EMS, for the most part, that refers to any upward movement that someone might have.  For a field provider, that mostly means that they will end up in one of two places: supervision and leadership, or clinical services.  We either lead or we teach.  But is there enough for people who have no interest in doing either of those?  And because we lack options, are we losing people to other professions?  I’ve heard it before: when someone gets that rocker on their shoulder that says “paramedic” the immediate reaction is “I’ve made it.”  Well, why should being a field paramedic be the be all end all for someone who does not aspire for a life with any more upward movement.  It is not a glass ceiling that is holding us back in EMS, its glass walls.

Some services have done a great job of developing what Skip Kirkwood refers to as horizontal employment opportunities.  That is to say: there are other opportunities for employees to use their skill at their level that does not require upward movement.  Down at Wake County EMS, they do a large number of standbys for some of the colleges in the area, and offer other options such as bike teams, tactical EMS, an increase in HAZMAT training among other things.  The hope is that it keeps things fresh and new for their field providers and keeps them from becoming stagnant in their current position in the organization.

With these horizontal opportunities comes a chance to obtain continuing education credits on topics that were previously not available thus helping to solve the current often point and click or wink and nod status of many (not all) EMS educational opportunities.  Most of all, there is an opportunity to try something new and different.  It promotes growth, outwardly, much like the nursing field does.  Not every RN works in a nursing home, an emergency room, or a doctor’s office.  They have other options as well.  Why should we not structure our field in a similar fashion?

Now, I know what you might be asking, how do we pay for this?  Well, that is the big question.  While it might not be a heavily generated source of revenue, the benefits of a happier, potentially more productive work force should outweigh the revenue stream.

SHOULD.  Now we just need to convince the bean counters of this.

As the potential of being paid for providing care that does not involve an ambulance ride to a hospital becomes a greater possibility, so does our opportunities to add revenue and actually be reimbursed for other services that we provide.  What better way to use that money is there than to reinvest it in the organization in hope of improving its infrastructure?

Let’s make an investment in our workforce.  Let’s make an effort to take EMS and turn it into a career rather than a job.  The sheer importance of what we do should drive us in that direction, but we refuse to let it.  It’s time for change.  Let’s make it happen!