Pondering A Career in EMS... An Anonymous Post for NSR

(Epi's note: A friend of mine is giving a career in EMS some serious thought. I asked her to write a short post for NSR this week. This is her contribution.)

Its amazing what a little time will do to resurrect old dreams and longings. Take me for instance, I am comfortably stuck in being a full time employee, parent and general flunky when a job change suddenly gave me ample time to sit back and think about things and I suppose the fact I was about to turn 40 had a little something to do with it.

I had been working in the medical field for too many years to count when suddenly it was time to really sit back and look at what I had been doing. As long as I had patient contact I enjoyed the mix of paperwork and patient care but suddenly when the patient care was taken away because I was needed more on the paperwork end of things, that enjoyment suddenly ended and it took me a long time to figure out that was the root cause of the problem.

I got out of medicine and took a job where I spent greeting people and having plenty of time to surf the Net (yes, I admit it) one day found EMS blogs linked to CNN's Health page and I was once again immersed in the medical world. I laughed, I cried, I knew exactly what the bloggers were saying because even though mine was in office world we still had our share of heartache, danger(yes, danger from threats etc made by insane family members), disappointments and stress. And I was hooked- I thought "you're goofy, you don't want to go back to that-you have the best work schedule you've had in years, its a good job! etc, etc" every reason I could to talk myself out of it.

I made the decision to go back to school but to be a business major- and knew instantly that this was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life- but still kept slogging away but other issues intervened and I had to drop those business classes- outwardly with an "oh that's too bad we'll try again" but inside with "Thank You Lord Jesus for getting me out of that."

I started seriously thinking about medicine again but thought I cannot go back into an office or hospital setting- the thought of working with 1 or 100 bitchy, hormonally challenged, power tripping women just wanted to make me puke. I would slug 1 or all and be in jail before the day was over.

The only other thing I could think of to do was EMS. I started researching the various programs and degree plans and decided to check into our local university which has an excellent paramedic degree program. But then I thought "you're stupid- you're jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, you're too old for this, and on and on" not to mention that only 4 out how many people I discussed this with thought it was a good idea. Most looked at me as though I had lost my mind and then the demeanor of one who is not with it mentally began to explain it wasn't a good idea. Which combined with HUGE responsibility of being in EMS- it sent me into an agonizing decision making period.

After much research and more agonizing- I finally got the guts up to talk to our local EMS dept at the university. I spent a lot of the appointment trying to talk myself out of it but I couldn't disagree with anything with what the local EMS dept was telling me. I felt so much at home- and with all of my previous courses I could go right into the Basic EMT classes- I was so stinking happy- just thinking about being able to help patients again. But I also realized that there would be moments of pure BS, terror, and horror- not to mention the 100% likelihood of being puked on, urinated on and so on and treated like a total piece of crap to put it somewhat politically correct.

But like a kid headed toward the candy jar I just kept on going- sat in on a Basic class- and felt at home for the first time in months. I don't want to come across as it just seems like I spun a wheel and it landed on EMS. I've always been interested in EMS and have always worked in the most high stress, demanding, emotionally challenging (not to mention draining) places and yet on the other hand have had one or two completely boring paperwork only jobs that have drained me emotionally because I have so much to give- and I couldn't give it. As well, a few years ago my family and I survived a horrific accident and I've been marking time- its time to start giving back. I know that sounds superficial but its time I started helping again instead of just moldering.

I still haven't made a final decision regarding what I am going to do- there's a couple other options or so I'd like to explore- maybe counseling and so on- but it will take 4 yrs to do that and I am ready to rumble now and yes, I realize that it would be 2 and 1/2 years before I could be a paramedic ( if I manage to get through Basic and then the paramedic program) its still a huge decision because of the responsibility, the dedication and strength it takes to get through. Not to mention the upheaval faced in my own personal circle. We would all have to make a sacrifice for me to do this.

So basically what it boils down to, is that I hope for most EMS students and most EMS wanna be students is that realization this is going to be long, hard road and that its a agonizing decision to make, one not to be taken lightly.


Laura said...

Definitely a difficult decision, with so many factors to consider. I wish your friend the best, no matter what decision she makes. It sounds like she is following her heart as well as as her head, so is bound to be going in the right direction!!

:o) Laura

Chapati said...

wishing her luck! She seems to have thought about it very carefully, so I hope it all goes well :o)

Rogue Medic said...

With all of EJ's comments about the excitement of dialysis runs, don;t get your hopes up. It isn't always that exciting. :-)

As long as you like helping people, you can find satisfaction in this job. Unfortunately, that can also be the source of a lot of frustration, since we can be ordered to not help people by those who have different priorities.