Archive for April, 2012

Reflecting on 32 Years in the Industry, Remembering the Basics

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I began as an Emergency Room Technician in a small but very busy ER in 1980. If anyone remembers, there wasn’t even an Emergency Department back then.

I first went to EMT-B school in 1982 and I rode with some of the busiest ambulances and the best paramedics in Chicago. My biggest regret is that I never went to paramedic school but I could never see myself working for a private agency for barely any money just so they would sponsor me into school. I let my EMT license lapse and continued in the ED.Image

In the early 1990’s, I took another shot and went back to EMT-B school. But, again, I still wasn’t satisfied with what I was seeing from my friends in the private sector. I entered Nursing School in 1992 and the rest is history. I grabbed every certification and educational opportunity offered. But something was always missing.

I learned that certain something was the dream of teaching and writing about the medical field, especially EMS. Sixteen years passed and I found myself to be a “burned out” ER nurse.

A job opened up running a paramedic program and I jumped at it. I have to continue working in the ED every weekend because the salary of a paramedic instructor is less than stellar. So I work six days a week for twelve hours a day. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I’ve seen safety practices and departmental changes since I first started my career in 1980. In a sense, I know the best practices by experience and look for ways to teach these concepts. We use Brady’s updated Paramedic Care Principles and Practice textbook in my course. The textbook, workbook, instructor resource manual, and Course Compass have made it easier for my students and I to grasp difficult concepts that paramedics nowadays need to understand.

Because I teach paramedic school, my assessment skills are much better, my EKG reading and strip reading has greatly improved and I understand more of the pathophysiology that I was missing. Most importantly, my empathy was reborn.  Both careers augment each other and I love them both.

My 32-year career in such a demanding field has provided me with one realization: sometimes you need to get back to basics. Reflect on your time helping the injured, and remember why you chose this field.

Joseph J. Doweiko (RN, BSN, ECRN, TNS, LI) is an EMS Education Coordinator with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago.

Categories: Uncategorized