The Educational Crossroads

The Educational Crossroads

Sep 22, 2015

My trip to Las Vegas for EMS World EXPO 2015 was my eleventh consecutive trip to a major EMS conference.  I feel like I have had a front row seat to see the direction that conferences like EMS World EXPO and EMS Today have taken on a number of different levels.  The crowd certainly has changed.  You still have your big names that show up year after year and those faithful attendees who come year after year and take classes.  Many products stay the same, while many “new and great ideas” are here one year, and gone the next.  Ambulance design shows the continued utter lack of advancement particularly from a provider safety stand point, which I continue to find alarming.  My car today looks nothing like the 1987 Volkswagen Jetta that was my first car in high school, so why does the back of my ambulance look exactly the same as the 1984 box truck that I first road in back in 1993?

It is interesting the direction that conferences in general have taken.  For a few years there seemed to be a bevy of new content mixed in with the usual trauma, mass casualty and pediatric classes that always seem to populate the convention schedule.  We used to learn about how ultrasounds were going to be the next big thing, and now Mobile Integrated Healthcare has taken yet another conference by storm.  It’s important information about the future of our industry but come on, folks, it’s time to see something new.

To JEMS and EMS World, I beg of you, step outside of your comfort zones.  Let’s move away from the same speakers that present year after year, regardless of how many awards that they have won, or how many articles that they have published.  We need some fresh new ideas and fresh new presenters.  I know that might ruffle the feathers of a few people out there who do not like being turned down, in fact I know of one in particular who has already said he is not submitting to a certain conference anymore because they did not want him this time around, but the time has come.  We are at a crossroads, and we need something different.
Don’t misunderstand my message.  That is not a slam to the current crop of educators doing the speaker circuit.  The overwhelming majority of them have a lot to offer those of us who occupy the rows of their classrooms, but let’s throw some new stuff out there because the industry deserves it, and failing to do so breeds the stagnation that I felt back in the mid-2000’s.  From the attitudes of the vast majority of those that I have met who are true educators at these conferences, I feel like they would be okay with this.  A number of them are very supportive when it comes to grooming fresh faces.  They look at it as succession planning rather than a “this guy stole my spot” attitude.
As for me, I am not going to be part of the problem.  Instead I am going to be part of the solution.  I have already started drafting my submissions for next year based largely on the curriculum I see from EMS World in 2015, and the general needs that I see within our industry. I’m gaining more experience, I love speaking, and with each engagement my curricula vitae gets another line longer.  The more that I do it, the more that I realize how much I like teaching.  Am I the answer?  I might not be, in fact, alone I definitely am not but with new blood, and new topics, things can start to change, and we can start moving off of this educational plateau that we seem to have hit over the about the last three years.
I want to encourage everybody who is reading this to do the same.  We all have something to offer.  Some of us are comfortable in front of a crowd, and others are not.  If you are not one of those comfortable with speaking take a look around, I am sure you know somebody who is.  Every great spacer at a conferences got their start somewhere.  Maybe somebody close to you just needs a little encouragement or that last nudge to get them into the game.  Whatever you do strive to be part of the solution.  Strive to not only make yourself a better care provider, add to that those immediately around you, and then eventually, hopefully, the industry as a whole.  Don’t wait for somebody to come and educate you.  Go out and find that new, fresh education and then pass it on to somebody else.
We need your help, folks.  Nobody can steer this ship but us.  It’s time for the new crop of educators to grab the wheel and take charge.

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