A paramedic walks into a bar, greets another paramedic sitting at a table by saying, “How’s it going?” The second medic responds with, “Living the dream.”
While this response has become a standard in our vernacular do we really know what it means to “Live the dream?”
As EMS professionals we have become focused on the challenges and stresses of the job and how to deal with them. What if we flipped that card over and looked at how to celebrate our careers and glean all that we can from them? What if we truly can “Live the dream?”
Since its actual birth in 1966, EMS has been recognized as one of the most progressive, and innovative aspects of the healthcare system. Paramedics and EMTs are revered for their abilities and seemingly magical techniques for saving lives and relieving suffering.
Those of us who spent a good portion of our adolescence watching the hit TV show EMERGENCY! decided then and there, “This is the career for me.”
Today, EMS is so deeply woven into our society it has become second nature. The mystical fantasy is no longer there. For many, it’s simply a job.
But there is still magic in EMS. EMS has become so widely diversified that those in the profession can still find something that lights their passion and allows them flourish within a specific area, capturing it and making it their own.
In this segment we will explore some ways EMS professionals can find lifelong joy and fulfillment within EMS.
Most State statues require EMS certifications to be renewed biennially. This mandates include refreshing on specific skills such as CPR, ACLS, etc. and earning CEU credits for other topics.
While many look at this as a chore, the EMS provider should look at it as an opportunity to explore new concepts and burgeoning vistas in the industry. Changes in EMS protocols and concepts evolve faster than most other healthcare disciplines. This is a great opportunity to embrace those changes and explore new concepts.
Find your passion
The field of EMS has diversified dramatically in the past few years. No longer is an EMS provider limited to “riding a box” for the entirety of their career.
Areas of special interest include:
Air Medical Transport
Journal writing and podcasting
Seek out specialized training in areas that interest you. Deep dive into them and discover a passion. To date, many of these areas are only lightly explored. The opportunities to make a mark are bountiful.
Getting involved in regional and national associations such as the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) offer multiple benefits, including access to resources, training discounts, and networking opportunities.
Learn about what other agencies are doing and gain insights as to where the industry is going.
Most of these organizations produce their own newsletter or journal. Membership allows you to try your hand at writing and producing meaningful literature to the industry.
Over the years EMS agencies have developed career ladders similar to those of the fire service. Promotion to these positions usually requires study, preparation, and demonstration of skills and leadership abilities.
While climbing the career ladder presents its own unique challenges, advancement also has its rewards. And they can be endless.
Teaching and Mentorship
There is little more rewarding and fulfilling in an EMS career then preparing future generations. Passing on knowledge and experience and watching protégés grow and develop offers rewards that are immeasurable. In a previous blog we discussed the benefits of becoming and instructor and how to get there.
Also, in a previous blog we discussed the challenges of shift work and how to overcome them. Many shift combinations actually provide you with more time off. Of course, some may not be so rewarding. You may not always have a choice of shift hours but you can certainly make the most of what you have to work with.
Physical and Mental Health
Utilize downtime to engage in activities that help you recharge, exercise, time with loved ones, or engaging in a hobby are all ways to make the most of your off-time and provide satisfaction outside the workplace. Many EMS professionals find mindfulness techniques, like meditation, helpful in managing stress.
Events like First There First Care Conference are valuable platforms for networking. Here, you can meet and interface with industry experts and icons, get insights into new concepts and technologies, and exchange ideas and best practices with peers.
Attending conferences like FTFC will allow you to achieve much of what we’ve talked about in this blog post.
Pride and Ownership
Renowned Fire Chief and author Rick Lasky turned his passion into an alternate career simply by having passion for the job. His book, Pride and Ownership, (June 2006) is a must read to help you create a love for the job. A career in EMS can be incredibly fulfilling. By investing in continuing education, networking, diversifying skills, maintaining work-life balance, and seeking career advancements, you can enrich your professional journey, find fulfillment in your career choices, and make a lasting impact on the lives of countless indivi