The ability to teach a skill, craft, or concept is considered the ultimate mastery of that subject. EMS instructors not only represent the pinnacle of those in the industry but play a critical role in shaping the future of the profession.
Becoming an EMS instructor is both a natural progression for experienced EMS providers and an opportunity to make a profound impact on the lives of both students and patients. It is often said, “…as an EMS provider I care for one patient at a time, however, as an instructor I can prepare many to care for thousands.”
This essay explores the essential qualities and steps involved in becoming an EMS instructor, highlighting the significance of this role and the rewards it offers.
Qualities of an Effective EMS Instructor
Without question an EMS instructor must be at the top of their game, both technically, and academically. Currency in the field and a real-time understanding of changes in the environment makes an instructor both relevant and credible.
Becoming an EMS instructor also requires a unique set of skills and qualities that go beyond technical expertise. An effective instructor must possess exceptional communication skills. They must be able to impart complex medical knowledge in a clear and concise manner that students with potentially little or no knowledge of the subject matter can understand. The ideal instructor should be approachable, patient, and able to adapt their teaching style to accommodate diverse learning needs.
Additionally, a passion for the job and a commitment to lifelong learning are essential for staying updated with the latest medical advancements and teaching methodologies.
Gaining Experience in the Field
With the advent of technology platforms like PowerPoint, Canva, and even Youtube, too many “instructors” find it easy to stand in front of a room and read from the screen or just verify online activity.
Most quality EMS education programs require candidates to have several years of active practice in the field. This experience provides both the necessary knowledge base as well as invaluable, real-world insights. Working as an EMS provider also allows aspiring instructors to identify areas where improvements in training methods and protocols can be made.
Obtaining Education and Certifications
While experience is crucial, obtaining the appropriate education and certifications is both important and, in many cases, required. Most State statutes identify specific certifications which must be obtained before someone can become an instructor. Many institutions and organizations offer EMS instructor courses designed to equip candidates with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in this role. These courses cover topics such as adult teaching/learning methodologies, curriculum development, and classroom management. Of recent note are studies in the generational differences of adult learning.
Begin your next chapter
A great way to start your journey to becoming an instructor is to obtain instructor level certifications in courses such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Stop the Bleed, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Obtaining these certifications and teaching within these programs helps hone teaching skills and perfect a delivery style. Other instructor courses may include Fire Service Instructor and Live Fire Instructor, and the NIMS series.
Beyond the certificates
An EMS instructor can fill a wall with certificates and credentials, but there is one component that cannot be taught or tested; passion. An instructor must have true passion for the profession, for the industry, and for the people they serve.
The truly passionate instructor plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of EMS by instilling in their students those same values of compassion, professionalism, and dedication to patient care. Beyond teaching medical skills, instructors must also emphasize the importance of effective communication, teamwork, and critical thinking in high-pressure situations.
Moreover, EMS instructors serve as mentors and role models for their students, providing guidance and support throughout their educational journey. They must be accessible and approachable to address any questions or concerns that arise during the learning process.
Embracing Lifelong Learning
As with any field in healthcare, EMS is continuously evolving, with new technologies, treatment modalities, and best practices emerging regularly. An effective EMS instructor must embrace lifelong learning to remain up-to-date with the latest advancements and ensure that their students receive the most relevant and accurate information. Attending conferences like First There First Care & Gathering of Eagles allows instructors to broaden their knowledge base, refine their teaching techniques, and get a focused view into the future of EMS.
An ancient philosopher once posed a question, “Is there a teacher so great he can make a student better than himself?” Becoming an EMS instructor is not a decision to be taken lightly. It requires dedication, experience, and a passion for empowering the next generation of EMS professionals. Through effective teaching and mentorship, EMS instructors hold the power to shape the future of EMS and in turn, positively impact countless lives.
By embodying the qualities of an effective instructor, gaining experience in the field, obtaining the necessary education and certifications, and embracing lifelong learning, individuals can embark on a fulfilling and rewarding journey as an EMS instructor. The role presents challenges, but the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and ultimately, the patients they will serve makes it an invaluable and noble pursuit. As aspiring EMS instructors take on this responsibility, they contribute to a safer and healthier society, one life saver at a time.