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Translating EMT Concepts Between Cultures

August 16, 2012 5 comments

By: Grant Campbell

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Inaugural ambulance at hospital in Punjab, India.

Situated in the Himalayas of North India, we at Lady Willingdon Hospital are uniquely positioned at the forefront of emergency medical education in the region.  Due to this fact, we have found ourselves struggling to balance the dual needs of tackling the lack of adequate first responder services in the area while meeting our own requirements for highly skilled critical care Paramedics. 

So, do the tried and true methods of emergency medical education work in the Indian context?  Can we simply translate curriculum developed in the States into the local language?  Well, yes and no.

The typical use of oral boards and skills stations as a means of assessing skills competency, breadth and depth of knowledge is a much-needed enhancement to the way training is done.  But, on the other hand most of the people here have a great ability to make things work with whatever resources they have.  This is a key attribute of a good EMT anywhere and is not an easy thing to teach.

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Campbell’s students learn about ventilation.

Teaching in India, I have found that I don’t have to teach my students to work together.  It is a natural part of the culture.  But I do have to figure out ways to teach them to make the most efficient use of team members. 

I don’t have to tell them to think about remembering to document the medications used because they want to make sure the patient is billed.  But, I do have to encourage them to communicate more openly with the patients about what is happening to them and to get informed consent.

These are just a few examples of differences between teaching in the States and India.  We have certainly had to find new ways to ensure that critical concepts are learned but the information and skills necessary to assess and treat patients remains constant. 

The human body works the same in the United States as it does anywhere else. No matter where you find yourself, at the end of the day, no matter where you go, patients are patients and they all require and deserve the best care that can be afforded to them.

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