Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reading Material

Since I haven't been working a lot lately, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on. A little bit of an addiction, really. My favourite books are ones written by medical professionals, all across the spectrum of medicine. I am running out of bookshelves, however!

The first one of this genre that I read was Peter Canning's first book, Paramedic, about 10 years ago. It made me want to be a paramedic more than anything, I read it cover to cover multiple times, ending up with large portions memorized. His book taught me about the medications and equipment that we use, enough so that I was able to intelligently answer questions in my first few classes. It's always a classic I pull out when I want to read something familiar.

Kelly Grayson's book, Life, death, and everything in between had me, quite literally, rolling on the ground laughing. I read it right after I finished university exams one year, in a public park under a gigantic lilac tree. I got some weird looks from pedestrians when I burst out laughing, but man, I loved that book. It showed me the ridiculous side of EMS, peppered with a lot of heart and emotion. I re-read this book (and/or the re-print En Route) when I have start taking myself too seriously and need to laugh.

Books by doctors are always ones I turn to when I want to be inspired. I love their drive for knowledge and excellence, and they remind me that I can always learn more. Ben Carson's book Gifted Hands never fails to inspire me, and remind me what faith in God can accomplish. I recently finished Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs, a book written by Michael Collins, a surgeon who worked as a construction worker for several years. Books like those make me think that going to medical school someday would not be that much of a stretch.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Preceptor

My preceptor this past year (let's call him Matt) was an incredible guy, exactly the type of preceptor I wanted and needed. He's an inspiring guy, not even thirty, and is already a critical care paramedic. His intelligence and drive for knowledge and further education made me even more passionate about this field, and made me want to learn more, train harder and be a better paramedic.

The most striking thing I learned from him, however, was nothing clinical, nothing that the textbooks discuss. He called them 'soft skills', and I have come to see that they are just as important, and in many cases, even more important than the clinical interventions we got drilled through in school. I never saw him get angry or lose his patience with a patient, family member or co-worker. A gentlemen to the core with little old ladies, a soothing touch to injured children and a listening ear to those suffering from addiction problems. As kind hearted as he always was though, he never, ever sacrificed our safety or stood down from a confrontation. I hope that I can show the same gentle strength that he does on a daily basis.

I remember one incident where we got called to a car accident on the highway on a cold, snowy evening. Arriving on scene, we found a woman and her child in their small car that had been struck by an out-of-control vehicle and spun into the retaining wall. The baby was perfectly fine, safe and secure in his care seat, while his Mom had a broken ankle. She didn't want the stretcher, and with our help, hopped gingerly over to our ambulance. When we arrived at the hospital, our partner, being a new dad, eagerly took the baby, while Matt and I helped her down the side stairs to the wheelchair we had grabbed for her. She was in more pain now, and hopping was clearly more painful. Instead of making her hop down, Matt reached up and lifted her down, placing her gently in the wheelchair. The look of relief and gratitude on the woman's face spoke volumes, a simple action, but one that drastically reduced her pain. Once inside, he willingly handed over his cell phone so she could call her husband in the U.S., she could not thank him enough.

Very simple actions, but ones that made me realize that he is the sort of paramedic that I want to be. The woman was not a critical patient by any means, and we really didn't do any "paramedic" skills for her, what he did was alleviate her pain and provide reassurance to her family. It made a world of difference for her, and really hammered home how important compassion and empathy are as a paramedic.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life Update

I finished paramedic school last spring, and as I had not applied for jobs last year (for personal reasons), I'm still not working as a medic. As much as I am disappointed about the delay, I did have valid reasons for the decision. In the meantime, I'm teaching first aid courses and staring longingly at every ambulance that passes by my window. Hirings are beginning to start again though, and I am applying for everything right now. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Two years

Two years ago when we started this program, our professors told us that by the time we finished, we would be different people. We would speak differently, act differently and view the world differently. Change is inevitable after learning all we have and seeing all we have.

In the last two years, I have made some amazing friends, as well as realized that it's okay not to like everyone. I have seen beautiful babies born to ecstatic parents, and walked into a heart-rending scene where a father decided he and his infant son should no longer live. I have held my father's hand as he passed away, my fingers on his weakening pulse as my family cried around us. I have comforted those who have experienced the same, while holding back my own tears at the memory. I have married a wonderful man and adopted an adorable, if not crazy, black lab.

In two years, almost everything in my life has indeed changed. I am a changed person, I do indeed speak, act and think differently. I am incredibly glad to be done so I can start my career, start making money again, and break free of school. I will miss the people though, I love my classmates, my teachers and my preceptor. Wonderful, wonderful people who have walked with me through the last two years, it will be sad when we have to say goodbye.