Gettin’ Educated!

My post today is loosely in support of one called “EMS Week Resolution” that went up this morning at The Ambulance  Have a look; it is a good read essentially about “growing up.”  My take on it though is slightly different, and is something that I am not alarmed about because it is a trend that I see from system to system and while attending EMS conferences.

Our friendly neighborhood Ambo Chaser points out to us that he was involved in a message board discussion about a state that was mandating all paramedics who were even short a half a credit on their continuing education to retake their National Registry exam.  How dare a state demand that?  How dare they penalize their paramedics and jeopardize the infrastructure of their EMS system over a half an hour of training?  While our favorite attorney/paramedic makes some great points about accountability and professionalism and (yet again) personal responsibility, I want to look at it from a slightly different angle.

Why the heck is anyone even close to the minimum hours when it comes to training?  How could you let that happen?  We are surrounded by education in this field.  You can get it online through great sites like MedicEd and CentreLearn, and you can find enough educational classes that both provide and don’t provide CEU’s that there is no excuse to even be near that bare minimum that we all seem to try to strive for when thinking about getting ourselves educated in our chosen profession.

A friend of mine once used a great saying which I have used many, many times since hearing it and frankly, it seems to fit perfectly here: “Don’t shuffle your feet you’ll trip over the bar!”  We set the bar so low that there is not only no excuse to clear it but there is absolutely no excuse to even be close to it.  If you want to talk about professionalism and being responsible for our patient actions, well, this is where it starts.

Greg Friese pointed out in a class of his that I took at EMS Today one year that free pizza brings in more students than good content.  And we all have seen that one salty provider who sits in the back of a CEU class with a newspaper opened up waiting for the sign in sheet to come around because he or she is just a few credits short of what they need, so they are going to be present for your class and that is about it.  Or that person who raises their hand at the beginning of class and says, “Are we going to be here the whole time?”  We allow that stuff to happen.  We condone it.  And we settle for it when we let these people out of the classroom to head back to the streets.

This is not a reflection on anyone’s ability to provide patient care.  It is a reflection on attitude and desire to grow as a provider and as an industry.  One can do the bare minimum in this field, get by, and fly under the radar for decades.  We have all seen it, but why should we settle for it?

Take a look at any of the major EMS conferences, and have a look at where the longest lines are.  Chances are the rooms that are standing room only are the MCI classes or the active shooter scenarios that people are reviewing.  All of those high speed, high adrenaline incidents that we all remember for our entire career.  Then take a look at the rest of the class list at said conference.  I am sure you will find some respiratory class or something on reading 12-lead EKGs (which admittedly is a commonly stuffed classroom as well).  These classes are ones that can have an effect on the treatment you provide every single day.  Sure, if you are unlucky enough to encounter an active shooter incident in your career you should be ready for it, but the education to occurrence ratio in this field is so skewed that something needs to be done.

Let’s not miss the core of the message The Ambulance Driver is pushing up towards.  He’s right, we need to grow up and become a profession.  We need to make that commitment sooner rather than later.  In that same breath though we should do everything at that we can to educate ourselves not because our state or licensing body has mandated us to do so but rather because we are taking responsibility for our own education for the benefit of those that we care for.  Even if you don’t get credits for it, take fifteen minutes during each shift to read about something you are rusty on.  Raise the bar for yourself.

That said I hope everyone has a Happy EMS Week!